In December 2019 the Government of India, led by the Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), secccesfully amended a bill to the Citizenship Act of 1955, offering amnesty to non-Muslim illegal immigrants, who arrived in India prior to 2004. These immigrants must be able to prove that they are citizens of one of the three neighbouring countries: Pakistan, Bangladesh or Afghanistan.
Half the truth is often a whole lie
Spokespeople of the Indian Government have repeatedly claimed that the new law intends to give sanctuary to people fleeing religious persecution. While this is certainly the case, the dubious decision to exclude Muslim refugees from Myanmar, Sri Lanka, and China; or in fact, the Hindu Tamils from Sri Lanka, raises questions about the Government’s sincerity. The timing of the bill is also not inadvertent; In August, the Assam State, located in the North-East of the country, witnessed two million of its residents left off the Citizen Register; this essentially left thousands of people, suspected of being illegal residents, in temporary camps which are housed in the state’s prisons. Modi and his Home Minister, Amit Shah, the mastermind behind the Citizenship Amendment Bill (CAB), have been eroding and attacking the social identity of the Indian Muslim community from as early as 1992 and the CAB was undoubtedly brought forth with an intent to adversely affect the political identities of this community.
The BJP’s records alone are enough to back such claims: In December 1992, a baying mob of Hindu fanatics, led by the then BJP leader, Lal Krishna Advani, tore down the Babri Mosque because they wanted to build a temple on the site. The then Minister of Home affairs, Narendra Modi, and his party came under massive criticism for their reluctance to contain the Hindu mobs. Lal Krishna Advani’s political views were certainly anti-secular, but he drastically failed to radicalise the more moderate members within his party. However now, after five years in office, as a majority party governing from 2014 to 2019, the party has disgracefully hijacked the very idea of India and paved the way for its theocratisation. One almost forgets that it was only in 1947 that Pakistan was created because India refused to discriminate against its citizens on the basis of religion.
Emboldened by the support for its nationalistic policies the BJP will continue with its divisive politics and Modi is likily to transform India into a majoritarian polity that is against everything that Gahndi stood for.