Activists slam anti-Muslim law on citizenship: It destroys India

Protests erupted throughout the country, the army deployed in Assam. Islamic organizations challenge the norm before the Supreme Court. Civil disobedience by state officials. There is the risk of "tearing the country, as with the partition".

New Delhi (AsiaNews) - The new law on citizenship "destroys the spirit of tolerance in India. It is based on discrimination, submission and Islamophobia. It is the implementation of division based on religion, instead of the modern concept of citizenship ".

This is the reaction of Lenin Raghuvanshi, executive director of the People's Vigilance Committee on Human Rights (Pvchr) of Varanasi to the Citizenship Amendment Bill (Cab), approved yesterday by the Upper House of Parliament (Rajya Sabha) and three days ago by the Lower House (Lok Sabha).

The law, wanted by the Hindu nationalist government of Narendra Modi, has split the country and provoked violent demonstrations. Today the authorities have deployed thousands of agents in Assam to counter the demonstrations that broke out in Guwahati. Since yesterday the population has taken to the streets, burning banners, flags and the text of the law.

Delhi fears that India will become the "refuge" of all the persecuted minorities in three neighboring countries - Afghanistan, Bangladesh and Pakistan - except for Muslims. The CAB modifies the legislation on citizenship dating back to 1955 so as to include Hindus, Buddhists, Jains, Christians, Sikhs and Parsi "victims" in those States.

For human rights defenders, the norm is illegal and discriminatory against Muslims, a population of nearly 200 million in India.

Meanwhile, state officials promise to implement forms of civil disobedience and Islamic organizations to challenge the law before the Supreme Court.

For AC Michael, national coordinator of the United Christian Forum and former member of the Delhi Minorities Commission, "it is clear that the law wants to strike at the faithful of Islam. Every sensible person should oppose such sick minds. I am against divisions on a religious basis ”.

According to Ram Puniyani, president of the Center for Study of Society and Secularism in Mumbai, the law "keeps Muslims out of the perspective of citizenship. The Constitution instead is based on the equality of the faithful of every religion ".

The CAB could initiate new forms of exclusion. Shibu Thomas, founder of Persecution Relief, a network that defends Christians in India, emphasizes: "The religious criterion of the law is dangerous. India is already boiling and temperatures are rising on sectarian perspectives. The rule is considered an even more intense strategy to polarize India. The democratic fabric is torn on all sides ".

For Fr. Cedric Prakash, Jesuit human rights activist, the norm is "another nail in the coffin of the Constitution and our democracy". Together with the National Register approved in Assam, "it is a shameless denial of the human rights of the citizen. If on the one hand, it guarantees citizenship to undocumented people, except Muslims, on the other it risks tearing the country apart and reopening the wounds of the Partition [between India and Pakistan] ".

 Even the Christians, adds the priest, "are affected by this law because of the riots in the north-east and in other areas of the country. Yesterday massive protests erupted in various cities and the army was sent to Tripura to contain hundreds of thousands of protesters. We are on the brink of catastrophic human suffering. It will be even worse if the government keeps its promise to draw up a national register for all citizens by 2024 ". (A.C.F.)