In­dia protests against Mus­lim ex­clu­sion laws

Evening Times - - THE WORLD TODAY -

HUN­DREDS of pro­test­ers across In­dia have been de­tained while demon­strat­ing against new laws which they say could open the doors to In­dian Mus­lims be­ing de­ported, im­pris­oned and made state­less.

The Cit­i­zen­ship Amend­ment Act (CAA) of­fers cit­i­zen­ship to any non-Mus­lim il­le­gal im­mi­grants or asy­lum seek­ers, aimed at those flee­ing re­li­gious per­se­cu­tion in Mus­lim-ma­jor­ity neigh­bour­ing coun­tries like Pak­istan.

The Na­tional Reg­is­ter of Cit­i­zens (NRC) re­quires every per­son in In­dia to have doc­u­men­tary ev­i­dence that they are al­lowed to live there. This goes be­yond ID cards and tax slips to in­clude an­ces­tors’ birth cer­tifi­cates.

The NRC ap­plied only in the north­east­ern state of As­sam un­til last month when the in­te­rior min­is­ter, Amit Shah, an­nounced it would be rolled out na­tion­wide.

Nearly two mil­lion peo­ple in As­sam were iden­ti­fied and asked to prove their cit­i­zen­ship or be con­sid­ered for­eign. The CAA will al­low those who are not Mus­lim to re­gain of­fi­cial cit­i­zen­ship, while ex­clud­ing the mil­lions of Mus­lims born and raised in In­dia.

Crit­ics say it is the lat­est ef­fort by Prime Min­is­ter Naren­dra Modi’s Hindu gov­ern­ment to marginalis­e In­dia’s 200 mil­lion Mus­lims, and a vi­o­la­tion of the sec­u­lar con­sti­tu­tion.

The protests swept across the whole coun­try, in­clud­ing the states of Ut­tar Pradesh and Kar­nataka, and in the cities of Ban­ga­lore and New Delhi. His­to­rian Ra­machan­dra Guha, a bi­og­ra­pher of Ma­hatma Gandhi, was among those de­tained in Ban­ga­lore.

In New Delhi, Yo­gen­dra Ya­dav, head of the Swaraj Ab­hiyan party, was among those de­tained as pro­test­ers demon­strated at the cap­i­tal’s iconic Red Fort and his­toric district. In­ter­net and phone ser­vices were blocked around the fort and in some other parts of New Delhi, a tac­tic In­dian au­thor­i­ties use to try to stop peo­ple from or­gan­is­ing protests.

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