With the textbook copying of the apartheid policies of Israel, the BJP nationalist government in India led by PM Modi, with ideological roots with Hindu supremacists, continues with its program of disempowerment of its large Muslim minority by enacting laws leading to denial of citizenship, religious discrimination and outright oppression.
On Wednesday 11 December, a bill known as CAB was passed to grant millions of refugees citizenship except those who were Muslims. This comes in the wake of total military lockdown in Kashmir since 5 August, granting of historic Babri Mosque land to build a temple in November, denial of citizenship to 2 million people mostly Muslims in the state of Assam through a citizen’s register that will be soon expanded to cover the whole of the country.
The state of Israel allows immigration to Israel and granting of citizenship to any person of Jewish faith while denying the same to the indigenous people of Palestine of Muslim or Christian faith made refugees after the creation of Israel or living under its occupation.
The current Hindu nationalist government in India with its grass root support from Hindu far-right organisations collectively known as Hindutva is pursuing the goal of declaring India as a Hindu state, thus either denying citizenship or turning its religious minorities into second class citizens.
Its prime target currently is its 200 million strong large Muslim minority and once successful follow it up by doing the same with other minorities.
The attack on Indian Muslims is multifocal, their faith identity, religious practices, historic legacy and their languages are being marginalised.
Muslims who have ruled India for almost a thousand years are being depicted as invaders and barbarians through a series of Bollywood movies, altered historical accounts in school textbooks downplaying their contribution to India and by renaming of Muslim sounding names of cities and iconic symbols of Muslim culture in India.
The Citizenship Amendment Bill (CAB) passed by parliament’s on Wednesday 11 December blocks granting of citizenships for Muslims from neighbouring countries while allowing people of other faith to speedily become citizens.
However, critics say that although the government seems to be appeasing people of other minority faiths except Muslims for the time being, the real agenda is to copy Israel and turn India into a Hindu authoritarian state welcoming Hindus from anywhere in the world while denying entry of people of other faiths.
Experts say that this new CAB law violates India’s secular constitution since “it clearly goes against Article 14, which is the right to equality, and Article 15, which is the right not to be discriminated against on the grounds of religion and sex.”
A popular India newspaper, Indian Express acknowledged the law targeting the large Indian Muslim minority.
“It is a political signal of a terrible narrowing, a chilling exclusion, directed at India’s own largest minority. India is to be redefined as the natural home of Hindus, it says to India’s Muslims. And that they must, therefore, be content with a less natural citizenship.”
This CAB will be followed by a national citizenship register which will put the onus on Muslims to prove that they are original residents of India and not refugees from these three countries, potentially rendering some of them stateless.
Thus Muslims living in India must produce documents to show that they or their ancestors have lived in India, otherwise they will be made non-citizens.
The CAB also denies citizenship to other minorities fleeing political or religious persecution elsewhere in the region such as Rohingya from Myanmar, Tamils from Sri Lanka, and Yuighurs or Tibetans from China.