Nearly 2 million people from the east Indian state of Assam have been excluded from a final citizenship list intended to identify legal residents and weed out illegal immigrants, amid fears they could be rendered stateless.
A total of 31.1 million people were included on the list, leaving out 1.9 million, according to a statement from the Assam government. Critics have viewed the exercise as an attempt to deport millions of minority Muslims, many of whom have entered India from neighbouring Bangladesh. The list has also divided families.
Police had appealed to people not to spread rumours for fear of panic.
The citizens' list was updated after 68 years, ending four years of work and a four-decade-old demand seeking detection of illegal immigrants.
The National Register of Citizens, or NRC, is unique to Assam and was first prepared in 1951.
"The entire process of NRC update has been meticulously carried out in an objective and transparent manner," the registry authorities said.
The government said it carried out the mammoth exercise to detect and deport undocumented immigrants from Bangladesh. But the final publication of the citizenship list has stoked fear of loss of citizenship and long periods of detention.
It is unclear what happens next.
The central and state governments, however, have said those left off the final list won't be declared foreigners.
Options for those left off include appealing to the Foreigner Tribunals within 120 days of Saturday's announcement. The tribunals must decide on the cases within six months. If an appeal fails, consequences include punishment in detention centres being set up by the government.
Amnesty International expressed concerns about the tribunals.
Meanwhile the Indian Express newspaper quoted Assam finance minister Himanta Biswa Sarma as saying that the list is "erroneous" as "more illegal migrants should have been excluded".
India's Home Minister Amit Shah earlier called Bangladeshi migrants "infiltrators" and "termites". The Government has vowed to roll out a similar plan nationwide.