The current protests over the government of India’s Citizenship (Amendment) Act (CAA) constitute the most resolute civic resistance to efforts at transforming the country’s political landscape. The government’s need to tamper with the existing laws and procedures for granting citizenship had a contested beginning in Assam. Here, the country’s Supreme Court mandated the enumeration of citizens under the National Register of Citizens (NRC)—a process that was partially attempted in 1951—in order to address long-standing political demands for autonomy and self-determination. Following the contested process that left close to two million people outside the register, the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) sought to introduce CAA, ostensibly to ensure that non-Muslims were not affected by exclusion in the NRC. This article focuses on the reasons why this has not resolved the issue of citizenship in Assam, adding instead more layers to the already contentious claims over resources and territory in India’s northeast.

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