Zafar Aafaq | Caravan Daily
Photographs: Khursheed Ahmad
NEW DELHI — Narendra Modi government is all set to pass the controversial Citizenship (Amendment) Bill that will grant citizenship to non-Muslim migrants from neighboring countries who fail to make it to the National Register of Citizens. The proposed bill has evoked sharp reaction from Muslims calling the bill discriminatory.
Hundreds of people, mostly Muslims, on Saturday gathered at the famous protest spot of Jantar Mantar in New Delhi and protested against the proposed Citizenship Amendment Bill and NRC (National Register of Citizens) plan.
The protest was organized by a well-known civil society group, United Against Hate and included students, activists, artists, and community leaders.
The protesters arrived at the spot en-mass carrying placards and raising slogans deploring the bill.
They were led by former Jawaharlal Nehru University student leader Umar Khalid and Nadeem Khan, who raised slogans, in high pitch, warning the government of consequences if it does not reverse the bill. “I appeal to all of you to not cooperate with the government if such an exercise is conducted,” Khalid urged.
The bill, if passed, will allow non-Muslim migrants from neighboring countries like Pakistan, Bangladesh, and Afghanistan to settle in India as citizens. The government argues that the bill will be a relief for “persecuted” non-Muslims who flee these countries.
However, critics say the bill is designed to discriminate against Muslims. Rohingyas Muslims have been subjected to large-scale persecution in neighboring Myanmar and have been forced to flee the country. Most of them have fled to Bangladesh, however, a sizable portion is living as refugees in India. But the proposed bill excludes them.
Addressing the gathering, Nadeem Khan, a well-known activist, gave a background of the NRC process carried out in Assam in recent years to highlight the loopholes in the exercise. He said the NRC has left out even veterans who have defended India in wars in the past.
“NRC and CAB will destroy the social structure of the country,” Khan said. “Because one community will be erased from the country.” The CAB is against the very ideals on which this country was founded, he said. “It is a war against the country.”
He warned the secular parties that if they chose to abstain or support the vote in parliament on the bill, they will assemble outside their offices in protest.
Swaraj Abhiyan president, Yogendra Yadav, also addressed the gathering. He said that CAB is a red line and if passed, it would mean that India will no longer remain a secular country. He would wholeheartedly support the bill if it is not discriminatory against the Muslims and opens the doors of India for any persecuted community, he said.