NEW DELHI, Dec 17 (KUNA) — In the past few days, India saw massive protests against the adoption of Citizenship Amendment Act by the right-wing government under Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
In order to understand various dimensions and repercussions of the new Citizenship Amendment Act on the minority Muslims, a look back to history is needed to see what are the aims, objectives, and interconnections of various decisions taken by the current dispensation.
Also under examination is that Muslims are especially worried about the Citizenship Amendment Act when taken it along with the National Register of Citizens (NRC).
Several historic and political facts are pertinent to recall in the changed context of new religious parameters for the Indian citizenship and when an entire Muslim population in the tune of 195 million are under the fear of stripping their nationality.
Protests have spread in the past few days to all parts of the country amid reports of widespread violence as the right-wing nationalist government led by the Bhartiya Janta Party is pushing hard its divisive and exclusive policies.
Historic roots, political Hinduism (Hindutva) has asserted since the fight against the British colonial rule that Muslims and Hindus are two completely different nations that cannot coexist and that India is a country for Hindus and Muslims cannot coexist with them.
Some analysts believe that this mentality contributed directly or indirectly to the establishment of an independent state for Muslims in the name of Pakistan in 1947 under the leadership of Muhammad Ali Jinnah.
Jinnah also held and endorsed the view that Muslims can not coexist with the Hindu majority and share power on an equal basis due to hostility between the two sides.
The right-wing ruling party is inspired by Hindu nationalist ideas and ideology of the Hindu nationalist organization Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh, which stands for the idea of building a Hindu nation.
However, the Indian Constitution decided that India would remain a secular state where rule of law will prevail and all citizens enjoy rights and duties regardless of their religions, ethnicity and language, thanks to the liberal and enlightened policies adopted by first Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru and the architect of the Indian Constitution, Dr Baba Sahib Ambedkar.
Article 14 of the Indian Constitution states: “The State shall not deny to any person equality before the law or the equal protection of the laws within the territory of India.”
Article 15 of the Constitution also prohibits discrimination based on religion, race, sect, gender, or place of birth.
The ruling party came into power on pledges of several divisive policies, which the RSS stood for centuries.
The party pledged in the manifesto of last Parliament Elections to focus on national security, border security, terrorism, farmer welfare, the construction of Ram Mandir in Ayodhya and repeal of an Article 370 among others.
“We are committed to annulling Article 35A of the Constitution of India as the provision is discriminatory against non-permanent residents and women of Jammu and Kashmir.
“We believe that Article 35A is an obstacle in the development of the state. We will take all steps to ensure a safe and peaceful environment for all residents of the state,” the manifesto said.
The right-wing party has in effect implemented this promise by repealing the Article 370 and bifurcated the state into two union territories to be ruled from New Delhi.
The center’s move in Jammu and Kashmir brought unprecedented tension within the country and the region as a whole since Pakistan and China rejected India’s unilateral move.
This was seen as a move against the minority Muslims of India since Jammu and Kashmir is a Muslim majority state.
Another important promise was the expeditious construction of the Ram Temple in Ayodhya.
This was also made possible after the Modi government came into power as the Supreme Court ruled to construct a Ram Temple in Ayodhya where Babri Masjid stood for centuries making the Muslim population feel let down even by the apex court of the country.
Another important agenda of the BJP is to implement Uniform Civil code, which is part of the Directive Principles of State Policy in the constitution.
“BJP believes that there cannot be gender equality till such time India adopts a Uniform Civil Code, which protects the rights of all women, and the BJP reiterates its stand to draft Uniform Civil Code, drawing upon the best traditions and harmonizing them with the modern times,” the manifesto read.
This is an issue, which have kept Indian Muslims on their toes as it would end all their privileges as a religious community.
In all these cases, Muslims were at the receiving end and they perceive all the moves of the government as one aimed at targeting them for their belief and hurting their religious sentiments.
Another important promise in the election manifesto of BJP was to enact the Citizenship Amendment Bill for the protection of individuals of religious minority communities from neighboring countries escaping persecution. “We reiterate our commitment to protect the linguistic, cultural and social identity of the people of Northeast.
Hindus, Jains, Buddhists and Sikhs escaping persecution from India’s neighboring countries will be given citizenship in India,” it said.
The implementation of the Citizenship Amendment Bill was also in line with the BJP’s manifesto.
However, analysts are stunned at the haste with which these programs are implemented refusing all the opposition. Another key promise of the BJP was to complete the National Register of Citizens.
“There has been a huge change in the cultural and linguistic identity of some areas due to illegal immigration, resulting in an adverse impact on local people’s livelihood and employment,” the manifesto said.
The party pledged to complete the NRC expeditiously in northeastern states on priority basis and across the country in future in a phased manner.
Analysts say the government is taking policies that are often seen as targeting the Muslims and detrimental to their interests.
Indian Parliament adopted recently the controversial Citizenship Amendment Bill paving the way to grand Indian citizenship to prosecuted religious groups in the neighboring countries Pakistan, Bangladesh and Afghanistan. However, the Muslims were excluded.
Indian Home Minister Amit Shah had told the Parliament: “The Citizenship (Amendment) Bill 2019, will give a new ray of hope to persons belonging to Hindu, Sikh, Buddhist, Jain, Parsi and Christian communities who have migrated to India after facing persecution on the ground of religion in Pakistan, Afghanistan and Bangladesh.”
He also upheld the Constitution of India saying it is the only religion that Modi government follows.
“The Bill is aimed at giving a dignified life to these people who had suffered religious persecution for decades by granting Indian citizenship to them, if they fulfill conditions for grant of citizenship,” he added.
He also assured the Muslims in India saying this bill does not target India’s minority community.
Amit Shah has also given lopsided logic for excluding Muslims from the countries mentioned as Muslim majority countries their own people will not subject them to persecution.
As for its impact on Muslims, where about 180,0000 residents were excluded from the National Register of Citizens (NRC) in the northeastern state of Assam.
Those excluded are a mixture of Hindus, Muslims and other religious groups. However, with the adoption of the amended Citizenship Amendment Act, all migrants except Muslims residing in India would be eligible for citizenship by simply claiming that they came to India from any of the three countries namely Pakistan, Afghanistan, or Bangladesh due to religious persecution.
Muslims would be singled out for harsh treatment as they are excluded from citizenship and it is expected that the illegal Muslim refugees will be put behind the bars in specially built camps, which are reminiscent of Nazi concentration camps. They will have to languish in jails until another country express willingness to admit them.
Though the government insists that the new nationality law does not target any group in India, there are plenty of signs to assume that the minority Muslims would be turned into second-class citizens in their homeland.
The current bill has spread panic among Indian Muslims as they fear that the right-wing government is targeting them through this bill along with the proposed nation-wide National Register of Citizens of India to hunt down the illegal immigrants.
Non-Muslims excluded from the proposed NRC would be protected through the current Citizenship Amendment Act while inability of Muslims to prove their citizenship will have to face deportation or jail.