The Coalition of Americans for Pluralism in India (CAPI) called for an emergency community meeting regarding India’s new citizenship bill on Dec. 21. This act, also known as Citizenship Amendment Bill (CAB), will fast track the citizenship process for Hindus, Buddhists, Sikhs, Jains, Parsis and Christians from Pakistan, Bangladesh and Afghanistan. The government, led by PM Modi, purposely excludes immigrant Muslims from gaining citizenship.
On top of that, India has implemented National Register of Citizens (NRC) in Assam, a state of India. NRC requires all existing Indian citizens and residents to prove their citizenship with proper documents. This will be problematic in a country where many don’t own these vital documents needed to prove their citizenship. Many will even have to show their parents’ birth certificate to prove that they are Indian citizens despite the fact that these documents were rarely issued.
Those who fail to obtain these scarcely available documents are said to be deported or put into detention centers. This creates a troublesome issue as the government can prosecute certain groups of people. Given the country’s religious current and previous discriminatory problems, this can be a frightening concept for Muslims there who are facing discrimination and have been a target of both police brutality and mob lynching in the past.
This bill (CAB) is the equivalent of the yellow stars that marked Jews in during the Holocaust. We, as humanity, have asked ourselves how we let the Holocaust take place yet we do not pay heed to the rising discriminatory pillars in society around us. In 2002 alone, more than a thousand Muslims were killed in the Gujarat riots under Modi’s rule as Chief Minister of the state. In August 2019, Kashmir was placed in Lockdown by Prime Minister Modi. This lockdown, which is still in effect today, entails curfews, internet bans, and the Indian army patrolling the streets.
This is not as far-fetched of fear as it might seem. As of December 22, 2019, 600 people have been put into detention camps,28 have even been killed, and camps for 2 million more have been built or are under construction. Families have been separated — kids have been ripped from their mothers’ arms. Kept under the radar by Prime Minister himself, these camps have been in effect for the past few months. Modi has denied these claims but members of the opposition in the Indian Parliament have openly confirmed the existence of these camps.
Aside from this, the citizenship bill affects everyone living in India. This concept of being declared illegal has brought thousands of people to the streets, protesting against the NRC. United as one, the people of India are leaving long-held discriminatory beliefs behind to fight along Muslims for their inalienable rights for citizenship and freedom.
These protests are calling for a decision to revoke both CAB and NRC. With thousands of people gathering in all parts of India, protests have turned violent as policemen fire both bullets and tear gas into crowds. Protesters have been thrashed by batons as well as arrested on false charges. The police barged into university campuses and beat the students of Jamia Millia and Aligarh Muslim University. Teargas was fired on students peacefully studying inside the college libraries. Students have been brutally beaten, bruised, battered, and broken by the police. Many have ended up in hospitals with lethal injuries. The force that is supposed to protect the people is doing the complete opposite. Despite these dangerous conditions, students continue to fearlessly protest against the citizenship amendment bill (CAB) and have become the group leading these nationwide protests.
The emergency meeting held by CAPI addressed this troublesome situation rising in India. Those who attended the meeting contributed what they could to pave the path to peace. All attendees pitched in ideas and solutions to the ongoing problem. They then proceeded to draft solutions and a plan of action to stand side by side with those suffering in India. Involving different demographics and spreading awareness were two major points that were thoroughly discussed during this emergency meeting. Additional protests are being planned to show support and stand in solidarity with those who are being oppressed and harmed in India.
We need to come together and fight as a united group against this injustice just as many are doing all around the world. This movement is clearly not going away anytime soon. It goes beyond this bill. Many existing scars have been ripped open and are not going to close in the blink of an eye. We need to stand with those being oppressed. This is not a domestic matter – it’s a matter of basic human rights. Human rights need to be protected for the sake of humanity. The story of the Holocaust did not end when it was defeated or when the Jews were liberated. This story lives on to show the mistakes that have been made. It is a reminder that it is necessary for protecting basic human rights.
“Citizenship (Amendment) Act: What Does It Do and Why Is It Seen as a Problem.” The Economic Times, 20 Dec. 2019, https://economictimes.indiatimes.com/news/et-explains/citizenship-amendment-bill-what-does-it-do-and-why-is-it-seen-as-a-problem/articleshow/72436995.cms?from=mdr.
Perrigo, Billy. “What to Know About India’s Citizenship Amendment Bill.” Time, Time, 10 Dec. 2019, https://time.com/5746688/india-citizenship-amendment-bill/.
Regan, Helen. “India Passes Controversial Citizenship Bill That Excludes Muslims.” CNN, Cable News Network, 17 Dec. 2019, https://www.cnn.com/2019/12/11/asia/india-citizenship-amendment-bill-intl-hnk/index.html.
“Three of 28 Dead in Assam Detention Camps Bangladeshis, State Govt Tells Assembly.” News18, News18, 30 Nov. 2019, https://www.news18.com/news/india/three-of-28-dead-in-assam-detention-camps-bangladeshis-state-govt-tells-assembly-2406739.html.