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India and the anti-Muslim Citizenship Amendment bill

By Staff |
December 22, 2019
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On December 9, Asauddin Owaisi, President of the All India Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen, tore up a copy of the malicious Citizenship Amendment bill, which is exclusionary and seeks to stop Muslims from becoming citizens of India.

An amendment to the bill, which is not yet in force, gives a path to Indian citizenship to migrants who are Hindus, Sikhs, Buddhists, Jains, Parsis and Christians from Afghanistan, Bangladesh and Pakistan and who entered India on or before December 31, 2014. It completely excludes the largest religious minority, Muslims.

After the partition of India, and specifically the partition of Bengal into West Bengal and Bangladesh (formerly known as East Pakistan and later East Bengal), several millions of Bangladeshi Hindus and Muslims fled to India and settled upon the states of West Bengal and some into the states of Assam, Tripura, Meghalaya, Arunachal Pradesh, and Mizoram.

These regions have seen the migration of people over the last five decades into India, with simmering tensions between the local population of Indians and the new immigrants, especially in Assam, where over 1800 Bengali Muslims were murdered in the 1983 Nellie Massacre.

The tensions have escalated over the last few years with the xenophobic right-wing government in power. The brutal tactics that were used earlier this year in Kashmir are being now being carried forward in the states of Assam, Tripura, Meghalaya and Mizoram. During August and September, the Modi government started to build detention camps based on the NRC (National Registry of Citizens), a document created to determine the 'Indianness of citizens in the state of Assam. The NRC was established in 1951 and is being extended to the whole of India

On December 11, the internet was shut down in Assam, as was the case in Kashmir, to stop the spread of the information about the atrocities being carried out by the Central Reserve Police Force and the Indian Army.

The updating of the National Registry of Citizens has met with a huge backlash. Thousands of protesters gathered onto the streets of Dispur and Guwahati pushing back the police who opened fire onto them - killing two students. In Assam, the protests continued the entire night of December 11, and many were tear gassed and hit with batons. The students of Jawaharlal Nehru University and Jamia Millia Islamia University took to the streets in Delhi to voice their concern. 50 students from Jamia Millia were brutalized and detained by the police.

Protesters from all over India, including Lucknow, Azamgarh, Bangalore, Mallapuram, Kolkata, Nandad, Ballia, Shillong, Varanasi, Pune, Bhagalpur, Amaravati, Hyderabad, Margao, Gulbarga, Bhopal, Solapur, Araria, Deoband, Surat, Calicut, Gaya, Muzzafarnagar, Kochi, New Delhi, Aurangabad, Ahmedabad, Yavatmal and Asansol, have come out in the hundreds of thousands to oppose the bill.

Artists, civil servants, ex-military and ex-judges have urged the government to rescind this oppressive bill. About 700 protesters in Uluberia in West Bengal attacked the trains and public buses. In Lalgola and Krishnapur, West Bengal trains were set ablaze and offices of the pollical party responsible for this reactionary legislation, the BJP, were burned down.