A draconian law

Updated December 11, 2019

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UNDER Narendra Modi’s watch, there is little doubt that the country is being transformed into a Hindu rashtra, where minority communities are relegated to the margins of society, if accepted at all.

For with the passage of the Citizenship Amendment Bill by the Lok Sabha on Tuesday, the BJP-led government in New Delhi has sent another signal — loud and clear — that Muslims are not welcome in Modi’s India.

Under the law, which still has to pass through India’s upper house, non-Muslims from Pakistan, Afghanistan and Bangladesh will be able to acquire Indian citizenship more easily.

Hindu nationalist supporters of the controversial bill have said the law will allow minorities ‘persecuted’ in these countries to find refuge in India. However, this move is hardly inspired by humanitarian concerns and smacks of Islamophobia and communalism.

The BJP seems very concerned about non-Muslim communities in South Asia, yet it is doing all it can to make the lives of Indian Muslims miserable.

This is only the latest in a series of moves the Indian government — now firmly carrying out the agenda of the Sangh Parivar — has made to marginalise and exclude Muslims from mainstream India.

The government has stood by as barbarians have hunted down and lynched Muslims suspected of transporting or eating beef; the annulment of India-held Kashmir’s special status is also part of this sinister agenda.

Moreover, a new ‘citizenship register’, under which people have to prove their antecedents, and already being enforced in Assam, may be used to cancel the citizenship of Indian Muslims if the BJP has its way.

Many sections of Indian society have criticised these moves, particularly the new citizenship bill, for contravening India’s supposedly secular character.

However the BJP, power drunk and with the support of far-right Hindu groups, knows that it can bulldoze these laws through parliament in the hope of achieving its dream of a Hindu India.

For India’s Muslims, these are troubling times.

People whose roots lie in India and who have lived in that land for centuries may now be declared aliens if the shock troops of Hindutva have their way.

With these ominous moves, the BJP is paving the way for making millions of Indian Muslims stateless — outsiders in their own land.

It seems the RSS ideologues that are running India, who are huge fans of Israel and whose ideological forefathers were smitten by Europe’s 20th-century fascists, are now employing the ‘best practices’ of both influences to do away with India’s Muslims.

These condemnable actions should be noted by countries around the world.

There have always been forces in India struggling to remove the veneer of secularism that previous dispensations there sought to promote. With the BJP’s rise to power, it seems that the communal beast has been set free.

Published in Dawn, December 11th, 2019