A wave of protests and violence has been growing across India, following the enactment of the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) by the Indian Government on 19 December 2019. The CAA created a new route to citizenship for irregular migrants who are Hindu, Sikh, Buddhist, Jain, Parsi, or Christian, and from Pakistan, Bangladesh and Afghanistan. However, controversially, it does not offer the same path to Muslim or humanist migrants.
This has been widely interpreted as further evidence of Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s promotion of ‘Hindutva’ or Hindu nationalism. Concerns have been raised all over India, and beyond, of the undermining of India’s secular constitution.
In recent weeks protests and counter protests have turned increasingly violent, with the vast majority of victims being Muslims.
Prof. Narendra Nayak, President of the Federation of Indian Rationalist Associations, said:
“This is for the first time that citizenship of India has been confined to religion or selectively omitted one religion. However, Tamil Hindus who are facing such problems in Sri Lanka are not included. Humanists are not mentioned at all!
“There is a proposal for the same exercise to be conducted all over the country and since lots of the people do not have any records to prove their citizenship they would all be out of the register and disenfranchised and made as non-citizens. This is also because there was hardly any need to maintain such records.”
VB Rawat, Director of the Social Development Foundation, commented:
“If the Indian Government is genuinely concerned about the protection of persecuted minorities outside of India, they should be prioritizing the protection of rationalists and humanists instead of adding to the tensions against Indian Muslims.”