Double Jeopardy

The Muslims in India lived peacefully in a secular state until
the BJP came to power and questioned their allegiance
to an India that may soon become a wholly Hindu state.

By Dr. Moonis Ahmar | February 2020

The controversial Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) 2019 passed by the Indian parliament and authenticated by the President tends to unleash a grave crisis since the imposition of emergency imposed by Prime Minister Indira Gandhi in 1975. While, the 200 million strong Muslim population in India is enraged with the discriminatory act which will consider giving Indian citizenship to non-Muslims from Afghanistan, Bangladesh and Pakistan who entered India before December 31, 2014, non-Muslims are also protesting across India against the CAA.

The double jeopardy of the Indian Muslims during the BJP’s Hindu nationalist rule emanates from their vulnerability to periodic lynching by Hindu fanatics on suspicion of cow slaughter and the looming threat of registration of their identity by the state which may target them. BJP and Shiv Sena stalwarts have made it clear to Indian Muslims either to convert to the Hindu religion or migrate to Pakistan or Bangladesh. Can 200 million Indian Muslims migrate to neighbouring Bangladesh and Pakistan with any ease? And why should they leave their country of origin in which they have been living for centuries? To coerce them to convert to Hinduism will not work and Indian Muslims are quite hard in preserving their faith and identity against all odds.

India today is passing through a strange situation as, on the one hand, the vast majority of Indians are silent and indifferent to what is going on against religious minorities under BJP’s rule and, on the other, other political parties claiming to be secular and democratic are unable to save India from transforming to a Nazi and Fascist state.

Why are Indian Muslims angry against the CAA and the National Registration Act (NRA)? According to the Indian website The Print, “before the Citizenship (Amendment) Act, Home Minister Amit Shah made it clear that there will be a national NRC, similar to that of Assam. So, in this case, after the Citizenship (Amendment) Act, when NRC is carried out, it is a given that there will be mass exclusions due to the process demanding papers establishing lineage, etc. Although, the exclusions are bound to include everyone from Hindus, Sikhs, Parsis to Muslims, all others, barring the Muslims, will be saved by the 2019 Citizenship Law as it seeks to provide citizenship to Hindus, Sikhs, Buddhists, Jains, Parsis, and Christians of the neighbouring nations. But Muslims, having no country to accept them and India having no provisions to grant them citizenship, could inevitably end up in detention camps”.

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The writer is Meritorious Professor and former Dean, Faculty of Social Sciences, University of Karachi. He can be reached at amoonis@hotmail.com

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