Citizenship Act Discriminates Against Muslims India blooms ‘Divide and Rule’ game – Salman Riaz

Cover Story

Indian Government has passed Citizen Amendment Act (CAA) on 13 December, 2019 which provoked huge anger across the country. New amended Law has inserted under Citizenship Act-1955. More than six decades period, CAA is sixth amendment of Citizenship Act. Latest amend has caused to spark people in all sectors and continuing as bloody protest. There are more than twenty people has killed in Anti-CAA protest across the country. India’s Constitution is never allowing the black law to be implemented in the country. The ruling Hindutva BJP is just the mask and branches of the tree, whose roots are represented by the RSS, whose ideology murdered Mahatama Gandhi, the father of India. Divide-and-rule was British strategy to govern in India, which is now being followed by those presently in power. Narendra Modi’s Government has bloomed divide and rule game as British successor in the largest Democratic country in the World.
In January, several opposition lawmakers, part of the joint parliamentary committee that reviewed the bill, that violates articles 14 and 15 of the Indian constitution, which guarantee the right to equality and nondiscrimination. Under CAA in section 2, in sub-section (1), in clause (b) provided that any person belonging to Hindu, Sikh, Buddhist, Jain, Parsi or Christian community from Afghanistan, Bangladesh or Pakistan, who entered into India on or before the 31 December, 2014, they could be a citizen of India. Also, they have been given relaxation in citizenship rights through naturalization from eleven years to five years. It does not apply to any other foreigners including Muslims migrating to India from any country including these three countries.
This proviso has fired to all section, they are questioning, why have only Muslims been left out? Why only three countries came under citizenship umbrella? Common Indians saw it as an attack on the basic preamble of the constitution of India that gives right to equality before law to all citizens of India. It was seen as first step for striping Muslims from equal citizenship rights. For people it was seen as an attack on secularism of Indian Constitution. For law maker since Muslims of these countries does not belong to minorities and other mentioned group who may have faced religious persecution needed to be protected.
The question raises who Constitute Minority in South Asia, since only selected religious groups have been placed under this umbrella which raises debate about other minorities in South Asia. There are sectarian and ethnic minorities in Pakistan and Afghanistan who too have been persecuted despite the fact that they are Muslims, there has been a very strong Muhajir movement, shia and Ahmadia minorities in Pakistan, there is strong demand of Tamil minorities from Sri Lanka, Rohingya Muslims from Burma. Indeed, it opens all fronts of persecution of minorities.

A brief review of Indian Muslims agitation:

Indian Muslim constitute second largest majority of Indian population after Hindu. They share a sizeable population, as per estimation they constitute almost 30 crore of whole population. They constitute second largest Muslim population of world’s Muslim population after Indonesia. First time in Indian history after Independence, any legal amendment had gathered people of India across all religion. Before this, it was only 1986, when Muslims agitated against any legislative intervention in Shah Bano case. I personally feel it is one of the biggest mistakes what Muslims did in history of Indian politics from Muslim perspective as it opened many fronts not only against Indian Muslims but also for secular parties whoever supported that.
Muslims are inherent opposed to change. Thus, it was again, the same allegation and idea how British did to justify their rule in India. This backwardness of Muslims had pushed them to claim their cultural identity. Interestingly Muslim never tried to connect their identity with Islamic country before 19th century. Even in Mughal period, when Mughal emperors denounced all religious connection with Khilafah by making themselves secular sovereign state. But this CAA Movement has changed whole idea of religious identity, since this time Muslims are not for protecting cultural identity, not for claiming shariah court, not for any religious rights and more importantly not calling for sake of Muslim brotherhood. Instead, this time Muslims raised their voice for equal rights what they saw it as violation of fundamental right, article 14, right to equality seemed under threat.
Thus, a group of students from Jamia Millia Islamia has started their concern on such important issue. They seemed to be corner out when movement started by a bunch of students then teachers too joined them in heart of National Capital, it spread across the country, around the 22 Universities of India expressed their solidarity, and even many renowned overseas Universities demonstrated their solidarity with students of India. Slogan is being chanted- ‘we love India: Don’t divide us’.

Muslim-unity need of the hour:

Does Indian Muslims need this revolution urgently? Indeed, for me its like a breaking the ice of almost 150 years of coldness what between two major communities of India had developed aftermath of 1857, they were made confronting with each others on many issue since British realized that these two community should never come close to each other which have power to root out any force. They did their best to divide and rule that resulted into two nation theory and very interesting our politician had maintained that British legacy.
The creation and perpetuation of Hindu-Muslim antagonism was the most significant accomplishment of British imperial policy: the colonial project of ‘divide et impera’ (divide and rule) fomented religious antagonisms to facilitate continued imperial rule and reached its tragic culmination in 1947. After the victory of election in 2019, the BJP has formed government again and the party manifesto promised to revoke the Article 370 and 35A of the Indian Constitution, which gave special status for Jammu and Kashmir. Modi government-2 has scrapped Jammu-Kashmir’s 70-year-old autonomous rights after less than 70 days to resuming power. It would be easy to balance between Buddhists and Muslims by allowing some Hindus from mainland India to buy property there. This was all part of the policy of divide and rule, systematically promoting political divisions between Hindus and Muslims, defined as the monolithic communities they had never been before the British.
British, had introduced a kind of social engineering through their decennial census report when first demographic Report (1881) as well as introducing municipal election, this has officially revealed Muslims number and made them realize their political future is in danger. As a result, a systematic attempt was made to create havoc between majority and minority by generalizing rapid growth rate among Muslims in all census report. Muslim women’s body became a site of national discourse till this date; this erroneous report caused a deep rooted communal hatred between two communities of India. Interestingly these discourses are still relevant while a parallel debate is going on Population Bill by targeting Muslim women fertility rate. The fact is Muslim fertility rate is more or less same as in other community. This state sponsored colonial hatred had created a huge gap among Hindu and Muslim. As a result Muslim has evolved keeping inside a sense of minorities among them. They started talking about their specific identity, their specific concern and vice versa happen among Hindus too.
They too, have been taught about a perceived persecution in hands of Muslim rulers during Delhi Saltanat/Mughal period hence it necessitate urgency of cultural revivalism, this revivalism got blur with nationalist movement that made Muslims more apprehensive that their identity is in danger. Muslims found themselves alienated hence they too started emphasizing their Islamic identity of Ummah. Beside these differences both had priorities freedom from British. However, after 1947 this antagonism emerged very clear despite the fact almost 99 percent of Indian Muslims (according to 1951 Census Report of Uttar Pradesh less than one percent Muslim migrated to Pakistan) have rejected Islamic Pakistan. In one of my forthcoming work, it came that common Indian Muslims had strongly opposed idea of partition.
Hence their anger burst out how their nationality is in danger. This time they felt it is the issue of their existence and increasing impact of social media made their voice to be heard not for that they are Muslims and their rights has been violated but for many reasons resentment was taking place among common people of India. It did work like cartridge of animal fat how Indian Rebellion of 1857 had started eventually that became first national revolution. Hence this peaceful Rose revolution matters to Muslims.

Why are many Indians protesting against this law?

Violent protests spread across India over a controversial ‘anti-Muslim’ citizenship law, which critics say violates the country’s secular constitution. The opposition parties argue the law is discriminatory and it singles out nearly 15 percent Muslim minority among India’s 1.3 billion people. Although the law has triggered protests across the country, the protesters have different reasons to take to the streets. The citizenship law protests first began in Assam, where six people have died so far, four of them in police firing as mobs torched buildings and train stations. This northeastern state shares borders with Bangladesh, Myanmar and China. In Assam, the anger over the citizenship law follows a contentious National Register of Citizens (NRC) exercise that was intended to weed out undocumented immigrants mainly from Bangladesh. Nearly 2 million people were excluded from the NRC list. Who are now facing a long and arduous legal process to prove their citizenship or be detained or deported. Residents now fear the new citizenship law will provide protection to Bengali-speaking Hindus left off Assam’s NRC list and leave Bengali-speaking Muslim migrants vulnerable to deportation.
The second reason why there is deep resentment and anger against the citizenship law, especially among Muslim students, is because the legislation is seen as part of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s agenda to marginalize India’s 200 million Muslims. India’s Home Minister Amit Shah has pledged to apply the NRC process nationwide to rid India of ‘infiltrators’ as a follow-up to the citizenship legislation, triggering widespread fears among Indian Muslims of being targeted and harassed by the Hindu nationalist government.
Since then the protest spread other states. The death toll in protests in India against this law seen as anti-Muslim has reached 23. Among them, fifteen people have died in the northern state of Uttar Pradesh. Protests also grew out of anger among university students and teachers over the attacks on New Delhi’s Jamia Millia Islamia (JMI) and Uttar Pradesh state’s Aligarh Muslim University (AMU). As soon as photos and videos shot by students under siege at JMI and AMU spread on social media, a rash of protests broke out in universities and colleges in other parts of India. Solidarity protests are being organised in nearly two dozen cities across India, including New Delhi, the financial hub of Mumbai, Ahmedabad in Gujarat state and Thiruvananthapuram in Kerala. India’s constitution is against any such law that discriminates on the basis religion, caste, creed or gender. This is a clear attempt to declare Muslims as second-class citizens.

The Author is an analyst on National, Regional International Affairs and Politics.