On the Ground: How Indian students are raging against Modi’s discriminatory citizenship law

NARENDRA MODI last night defended the controversial Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA), claiming the exclusionary amnesty law is not anti-Muslim.

The Indian Prime Minister drew criticism from human rights organisations worldwide after implementing the bill, which allows safe passage from refugees of six major religions – excluding Islam.

Student groups have taken to the streets all across India to show their disdain toward the act – as well as the Modi regime as a whole.

Redaction News spoke exclusively to a Masters student from Kolkata who is organising demonstrations on the ground.

His name has been changed to protect his identity.

John Doe, 21, told Redaction News: “We are not just protesting against the CAA, but also against the National Register of Citizens (NRC).

“The CAA cannot be looked at in isolation. The NRC bill is, allegedly, meant to preserve ethnic uniqueness, and every citizen must prove they are a citizen.

“The implementation of the NRC in Assam has shown it to be a flawed process.

“The CAA is being presented as a bill of inclusion, but has no provision to include Muslims.

“The conflated product is an insidious piece of legislation, which would essentially relegate Muslims to second grade citizenship, but also upholds the rights of the privileged, while forwarding the sangh ideology which lies at the core of the BJP.”

Protests against the CAA. Credit: DiplomatTesterMan, Wikimedia

Earlier this week Dr Sanjay Ruparelia told Redaction News that Modi’s latest move was “part of the longstanding campaign of Hindu nationalists to eradicate the secular foundations of post-independent India, to overturn its constitutional vision as a multireligious democratic polity.”

Rank-and-file BJP members have exacerbated tensions between the Hindu and Muslim community, according to Doe.

He said: “While there has always existed latent simmerings amongst the Hindu and Muslim populace, in certain pockets, for the most part, there existed communal harmony and co-habitation among the two communities.

“The coming of Mr.Modi to power has resulted in a change in the status quo. The number of hate crimes have gone up. A great number incidents of cow related violence have started to occur.

“Videos of men catching other men, and forcing them to chant “Jai Shree Ram”, had been surfacing through the first stint of the BJP at the Centre. Mob lynchings too, seemed to have gained a degree of normalcy.”

There are a number of groups on the streets, but have thus far been uncoordinated.

There is support from some politicians, despite the BJP’s grip on Congress.

In Bengal, Chief Minister – Mamata Banerjee is leading the protest marches herself.

Protests against the CAA. Credit: DiplomatTesterMan, Wikimedia

Doe said: “She has been the most out-spoken of Modi’s critics, and is spearheading the movement of civil disobedience. Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal has voiced his opposition to the bill, as well.

“Having seen how reception to the protests thus far have been, it does not seem like protests alone will help. 

“The general public have been imbued in the nationalist rhetoric to such a degree, that they are desensitized to the plight of fellow citizens.

“This desensitization has manifest itself most overtly in the reaction towards the unprecedented violence unleashed by the Central police upon the students of Jamia Millia Islamia and Aligarh Muslim University.

“Police broke into the University campuses and attacked protesting, as well as non-protesting students, used expired tear gas shells, and forced students out in the middle of the night.

“A large number of people not only continue to support such violent action, but even justify it. There is much propaganda that the public will have to unlearn before it understands the truth.

“As for whether these protests will amount to anything more, it is difficult to say. Our fight is on multiple fronts.

“With the GDP at its lowest in recent years, surging prices of commodities, rife unemployment, people might begin to realise, with the help of these protests, that the BJP has little to offer besides communal disharmony, and that the struggling economy cannot sustain the cost of building and maintaining detention centres.”

Mahatma Gandhi’s great-grandson joined tens of thousands of demonstrators yesterday as waves of protests continued.

Modi said yesterday: “The law does not impact 1.3 billion Indians, and I must assure Muslim citizens of India that this law will not change anything for them.

“We have never asked anyone if they go to a temple or a mosque when it comes to implementing welfare schemes. Brothers, since this law has been passed, some political parties have been spreading rumours. These people are misleading the public, they are inciting the public.

“People who are trying to spread lies and fear, look at my work. If you see any trace of divisiveness in my work, show it to the world.”

The UK Foreign Office have not yet responded to comment.

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