The Uttar Pradesh government has already started identifying people who need Indian citizenship, according to the newly formed Citizenship Act, which has sparked unrest across the country. So far, the government has identified 32,000 people in 21 state districts.
However, it is not clear by what method this identification was carried out. The controversial Citizenship Amendment Act, or CAA, came into force three days ago through a Gazette notification, but implementation rules have not yet been established.
"We are not in a hurry. We have only just started. As soon as the crime is announced, we have to start moving, right?" Shrikant Sharma, Uttar Pradesh minister and government spokesman, told NDTV.
"This is an ongoing process and the numbers will continue to be updated. All district judges have been asked to conduct surveys and to update the list further. We are also in the process of communicating this list to the Union Ministry of Interior," added the minister.
Some of the people identified so far appear to come from Pilibhit, a district about 260 km from Lucknow, near Uttarakhand and the Indian border with Nepal.
The district's top government official, Vaibhav Shrivastava, told local journalists on Friday afternoon that 37,000 refugees who came here from Bangladesh and the former east of Pakistan were identified in a "first interview" and the names were sent to the state government.
"Initial investigations have shown that these people have come to Pilibhit because of the persecution in their countries," Shrivastava said.
No explanation has been given for the deviation of the figures given by the state government.
"I am glad that the government has decided to look at us positively. This gives hope to people like me," said Kalibad Haldar, who lives in Pilibhit. His family fled East Pakistan in the 1960s, commuting between Maharashtra and West Bengal before finally coming to Pilibhit in 1984.
Uttar Pradesh is one of the most violent states to protest the new law. Last month, 21 people were killed in clashes between police and demonstrators, and more than 300 police officers were injured. Union minister Amit Shah, however, has made it clear that there will be no withdrawal of the law.
The controversial citizenship change law introduces religion as a test of citizenship for the first time. According to the center, the law is designed to accelerate the naturalization of six minority groups (not among them Muslims) from three predominantly Muslim countries in Pakistan, Bangladesh and Afghanistan, who sought refuge in India after the persecution. Critics say the law, when read with the National Register of Citizens, is out of tune with Muslims.