The administration in Odisha’s Kendrapara district has begun the process of removing suspected Bangladeshis from electoral rolls, PTI reported on Sunday. Odisha is expected to go to the polls in 2019.

The coastal district of Kendrapara has 1,649 Bangladeshi settlers. So far, 137 Bangladeshis have been detected in the voter list in Mahakalpada tehsil alone, according to District Collector Dasarathi Satpathy.

“After thorough verification of their nativity antecedents, these foreign nationals have been removed from voter list,” Satpathy said. “Officials engaged in the exercise have been asked to ensure that none of these foreign nationals find place in the final voter list.”

The tehsil has about 1,551 Bangladeshi settlers, he added. These settlers were sent deportation notices in 2005 but the move was put on hold following the central government’s intervention at that time, an unidentified official told PTI.

As many as 3,987 Bangladeshis are staying in Odisha illegally, officials claimed.

These developments come amid the raging controversy over Assam’s National Register of Citizens. Its final draft was published on July 30 leaving out nearly 40 lakh people, even some MLAs and a former chief minister.