BJP government has embarked on a full-fledged movement to ‘safronize’ India. The plans which were once latent have now been laid bare. Modi government is not holding back at all in making pro-Hindu nationalist moves. Back-to-back controversial bills and their consequent legislation show that BJP is working on a pre-planned agenda which was in waiting for a long time.
The latest legislation passed by the Indian parliament called the ‘Citizenship (Amendment) Act’(CAB) which grants citizenship to Hindu, Sikh, Buddhist, Jain, Parsi and Christian illegal migrants from Pakistan, Bangladesh and Afghanistan is another milestone for Modi in his Hindu-Rashtra mission. The Act is a manifestation of BJP’s detestation of Muslims as it is blatantly discriminatory in nature for excluding Muslims from this list. The argument behind this discrimination is that these six communities are living as minorities and are facing religious persecution in the above listed Muslim countries, so Indian government is providing them with citizenship to give them protection. On the other hand, Muslims are not facing any such persecution in these countries; therefore, they have no reason to take refuge in India.
It is needless to mention that this argument is seriously flawed as it is based upon erroneous claims. The statistical data regarding the minorities in Pakistan, Bangladesh and Afghanistan which was presented by Indian Home Minister Amit Shah in the parliament is baseless and misguiding. This fact has even been exposed by the Indian media itself. Amit’s claims have been deemed lacking even a tiny scrap of evidence, especially in respect to Pakistan that its non-Muslim population has dropped from 23% to 3.7%. Yet, the more significant fact is that BJP government has acted in open defiance of the Constitution of India by violating the provisions of Article 14,15 and 16 that grant equal rights to the people regardless of their religion, race, caste, sex or place of birth.
Nevertheless, it seems that Modi and his crew miscalculated the ramifications of this legislation; they thought they would easily get away with it as they did in the earlier cases of Article 370 and Babri Masjid. Contrarily, A wave of protests against the Act has erupted in various parts of India, especially in the Northeastern states. After the bill was cleared on 4 December 2019, violent protests broke out in Assam, especially in Guwahati, and other areas in the state. In Dispur, several thousands of protesters broke down police barricades to protest in front of the Assam Legislative Assembly building. Demonstrations were held in Agartala. Six people have lost their lives and fifty people have been injured in the protests against the Act.
Internet was shut down in the north-eastern state of Assam and curfew declared in Assam and Tripura due to huge protests. However, the army had to be called in to deploy as protestors defied those curfews. Railway services were suspended and some airlines started offering rescheduling or cancellation fee waivers in those areas. Officials reported that at least two people died after clashes with police in Guwahati, Assam.
Reactionary protests were held in well as several metropolitan cities across India, including Kolkata, Delhi, Mumbai, Bengaluru Hyderabad, and Jaipur. Smaller rallies were also held in the southern states of Kerala and Karnataka. Students from various reputed universities took to the streets and were confronted with brutality by the Indian police.
Despite all this chaos, carnage and drama, the issue that requires utmost consideration is the marginalization of a community that constitutes almost one sixth of the population of India. A community that represents the second largest religion of India. A community that has produced freedom fighters like Bakht Khan and S.M. Sharfuddin Qadri who fought in the forefronts for the freedom of India. A community that has given India great leaders and intellectuals like Maulana Abul Kalam Azad, Dr. Zakir Husain and A. P. J. Abdul Kalam. Such a community deserves as much respect and acceptance as any other community of India.