The United States has flagged Bharatiya Janata Party National President Amit Shah’s characterisation of immigrants in Assam as “termites” at a rally last year. Shah, addressing a public rally in Rajasthan’s Sawai Madhopur district in September, had said that Bangladeshi immigrants in Assam were “termites” who will be struck off the electoral rolls in India.

Shah had made the comment in the context of the preparation of a National Register of Citizens in Assam. The US State Department, in its Country Reports on Human Rights Practices for 2018, has included a section on the register. An excerpt from the section reads: “On September 24, ruling BJP party president Amit Shah called Bangladeshis who may be in Assam ‘termites’ who will be struck from the list of citizens.”

On the register itself, the report said it is unclear what the legal status of those denied citizenship will be. “Many individuals may be declared citizens at the end of the process, while others may be at risk of statelessness,” it observed.

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said while releasing the report on March 13: “We have told those who disgrace the concept of human dignity that they will pay a price, that their abuses will be meticulously documented and then publicised. By articulating abuses and pressuring non-compliant regimes, we can effect change.”