Police in Delhi have launched a violent attack on students protesting the recent amendment to the naturalization law. Police attack The police attack focused on one university, the Malay University, while the scene of tear gas canisters, arson and bloodshed at The Alikra Islamic University in Uttar Pradesh was repeated.
The two institutions are considered “Islamic”, although they receive students of all faiths.
As news spread across India of police resorting to disproportionate force against students through social media, students from other universities and concerned citizens took to the streets in solidarity with the protest movement.
The protests have not stopped since then, and more are planned next week.
Draft amendment to the Nationality Act
But what is the draft amendment to the naturalization law and why has it created confusion in India? The law accelerates the process of granting Indian citizenship to illegal immigrants who entered the country before 2015 from Hindu, Sikh, Buddhist, Jain, or Zoroastrian communities, as well as Christians from Afghanistan, Bangladesh and Pakistan. But more importantly, the law excludes Muslims.
The law follows a citizenship campaign in Assam state, which was used to cleanse the region of illegal immigrants and placed 1.9 million people stateless in detention centres.
A safe haven for all religions.
This move may not be surprising given that the goal of Narendra Modi’s hindu-hindu party, the hindu people’s party, which believes in its nationalist supremacy, was re-elected after winning by an overwhelming majority in May, is for India to become a safe haven for all religions – except for Islam. On the other hand, ironically, india‘s north-eastern region has claimed for decades that migration from Bangladesh has erased the identity of the ethnic and tribal region, which the amended naturalization law may allow for its continuation.
The amended citizenship law challenges a principle established in the Indian Constitution. The country’s democratic republic was founded in 1947 on the principle of secularism. Unlike Pakistan, a religiously based state, India has never been a religious state. The Government of Narendra Modi never conceals its intention not to treat all Indian citizens equally.
White Nile Pest
In an election speech this week in Jharkhand state, Modi said protesters could be identified to amend the naturalization law “through their clothes” — in a clear reference to Muslims. Interior Minister Amit Shah, who described illegal immigrants as a “termite pest”, mocked the demonstrators, saying ,”Say you will allow all Muslims to enter India.” This fact can no longer be concealed: the two most powerful men in the Indian government have perfectly clarified their fanatical agenda of Hindu and anti-Islamic nationalism.
India‘s Muslims fear that the amendment of the naturalization law will turn them into second-class citizens. The citizenship campaign has already dismembered families, and even soldiers who have been awarded medals for their courage have become inmates in detention centres solely because they are Muslims. While the citizenship campaign can do all this damage to one state, what atrocities await the Muslim community in the rest of the country?
Strong earthquake in India
The amendment of the Citizenship Act and the citizenship campaign have caused a strong scare in India, worsening things at a time of economic chaos, isolated Kashmir since August and all the promised development has yet to come to light. The damage has now reached India itself and the constitution that characterizes us — even though the resistance has finally begun. Although the Supreme Court has postponed hearing all petitions rejecting the law until the end of January, popular demonstrations continue to sweep the country.
Even BJP’s political and ideological allies who supported the draft amendment to the naturalization law in parliament were forced to back down in the face of popular discontent. Criticism sought in India‘s huge and popularly beloved film industry for not expressing its position on injustice, as Hollywood star John Kyusak embarrassed his colleagues in India by expressing solidarity with the protesting students.
But it remains very easy to fall into the trap of illusion and deceptive sense of security and considering that the anti-constitutional movement has gained considerable momentum.