The Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) has been said to subvert the foundations of India’s secular constitution.
Last month, the act was passed to reprieve non-Muslim illegal immigrants from Pakistan, Bangladesh and Afghanistan. The federal government in India says the law opposes religious minorities escaping persecution – but the move has invoked criticism from opposition parties and international rights groups worldwide.
It is controversial because it complies with a government plan to publish a nationwide register of citizens that it claims will identify illegal immigrants. In other words, anyone who doesn’t have the documents to prove that their ancestors resided in India.
A National Register of Citizens (NRC) passed in the north-eastern state of Assam witnessed 1.9 million people rendered stateless.
The NRC and the Citizenship Amendment Act are related because the latter will shield non-Muslims excluded from the register and likely suffer the threat of deportation and internment.
The change in the law invited severe backlash from many protestors, especially students.
Muslim citizens believe they could be made stateless if they don’t possess the required documents. Critics say the law “is exclusionary and disrupts secular principles enshrined in India’s constitution.”
Mr Modi, however, clarified that the law will have “no effect no citizens of India, including Hindus, Muslims, Sikhs, Jains, Christians and Buddhists.”
He also accused the opposition for the protests, saying they were “spreading lies and rumors” and “instigating violence” while “creating an atmosphere of illusion and falsehood.”
Just recently, the Chief Minister of Bihar State, Nitish Kumar criticized the Modi government for the contended Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA).
He asked the Parliament in regards to holding a special discussion on the discriminatory Act again.
Meanwhile, twenty opposition parties during a meeting in Delhi have refused to implement the National Register of Citizens in their states. They said it was slanted towards the Muslims.
Furthermore, Indian Congress chief Sonia Gandhi termed the citizenship Amendment Act as a “discriminatory and divisive law.”
While addressing a meeting in Delhi, she said that the evil motive of the law is to “divide the Indian people on religious lines.” She then demanded immediate withdrawal of the CAA and halting the process of the National Population Register.
Earlier, several Chief Ministers of various states including Mamata Banerjee have refused to implement the CAA or the NRC in their states.
History, under the BJP’s rule, is being re-written. The NRC and the CAB are representatives of a basic shift in the vision of a democratic India. The BJP’s discussions about inclusivity appear fruitless as none of the minorities in India were invited to accept the revered Hindutva ideology.
As the protests to the bill continue, the zealous demonstrations are evidence that the promise of an inclusive India might still hold onto its place.