Monday, February 6, 2023
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Citizenship protests in northeast show Muslims are really on their own in this fight

Northeast unrest over citizenship law is hardly about secularism. People only want to protect their distinct tribal culture from Bengalis residing there.

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Jamia Millia Islamia students’ protests and violent clashes rocked New Delhi Sunday over the amended Citizenship Act. Soon after, Aligarh Muslim University and Jawaharlal Nehru University students started their own protests.

The new citizenship law, in short, says everyone is welcome in India, except Muslims.

Former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh had once said that minorities, “particularly the Muslim minority” should be “empowered to share equitably the fruits of development” and that they “must have the first claim on resources”. But the BJP under Narendra Modi and Amit Shah has always emphasised that India is first for its majority. The BJP wants to make India great again but just for the Hindus.

So, if you are an illegal immigrant and anything but Muslim, you’ve hit jackpot. The passing of the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill in Parliament can now overnight turn you from an illegal immigrant, often dubbed “ghuspethiya” or a “termite”, to a citizen of India. But God forbid that if you are a Muslim and can’t prove you are an Indian citizen, you’re the kind of ‘termite’ who should get ready for symbolic fumigation. You will not be granted citizenship, not because you’ve not followed procedures but because you are a Muslim. Exactly why the BJP is bringing in both the nation-wide NRC and the new citizenship law.

For argument’s sake, let’s agree with Home Minister Amit Shah’s statement in the Rajya Sabha that citizenship law isn’t anti-muslim. The benevolent Shah essentially wants to enforce a law that will undo the broken promise of the Liaquat-Nehru Pact as well as undo the excesses against the persecuted minorities of Bangladesh and Afghanistan. 

The 1950 agreement was signed between former Indian Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru and former Pakistan Prime Minister Liaquat Ali Khan on the pledge that both the countries will grant their minorities “equality of citizenship”, “full sense of security in respect of life” and “freedom of movement within each country”. 

In fact, the ongoing agitation in the northeast against the citizenship law is hardly about secularism. The people of the northeast only want to protect their distinct tribal culture from the Bengalis who have settled there. It does not matter to them if those Bengali migrants are Hindus, Muslims or atheists.

The protests against the CAB in other parts of India, however, made something very clear. It showed how easily PM Narendra Modi and his party can target one community, just on the basis of the clothes. “You can easily make out who is spreading violence by the clothes they wear,” Modi said Sunday.

The Muslims are on their own now in this fight.

Also read: Assam’s fears rooted in history, unlike the communal spin Indian ‘intellectuals’ gave to CAB

Muslims on the receiving end

If one was to see the amended citizenship law in isolation, perhaps one could imagine that persecuted minorities from Muslim-majority nations did indeed deserve a chance for a dignified life. After all, two entirely new countries were formed for Muslims. A lone India had to be a saviour of all others except Muslims who have two countries, flanking India, all for themselves. One could also believe that Muslims in these Muslim-majority nations couldn’t possibly be persecuted on religious grounds, although this claim has been debunked because many Muslim sects like the Ahmadis, Balochs and Rohingyas have indeed been persecuted.

But one has to be blind to not see the government’s workings in isolation. BJP’s Nirmal Singh, former deputy chief minister of Jammu and Kashmir, right after the dilution of Article 370, had proposed that property rights in Ladakh should not be given to the rest of India so as to not dilute the culture of that land. Kashmiris, 97 per cent Muslims, who fought for their cultural identity were not bothered about the minister’s proposition even though they had the same demands.

Similarly, the triple talaq bill criminalises Muslim men who abandon their wives by just pronouncing talaq three times, whereas a non-partisan take on such a marriage law should’ve criminalised any man from any religion who abandons his wife.

In the same vein, after the NRC in Assam, many Bengali Hindus who were not included in the final list were subsequently assured of citizenship by Amit Shah. And though the Home Minister assuaged fears last week by saying that “no one will have to go to a detention camp”, it did nothing to reassure Muslims.

And now there’s the citizenship law, where a Mohan, Shyam, Krishna and Hassan could all be declared illegal but only one would face the consequence of it. Every decision of the Modi-Shah government has been about normalising the narrative against Muslims. And with many expecting the government to bring in the Uniform Civil Code and population control measures next, these all paint a very telling picture, coloured in a thick coat of Hindutva.

Also read: CAB protests a battle for India – either we are a secular state or we aren’t India at all

The idea of India

The anti-Muslim propaganda on social media platforms and WhatsApp seems to have been part of a larger design. The perception of Muslims producing children by the dozens and getting special and altogether “unnecessary” privileges by separate laws, which the Congress tried to appease them with, has been solidified in the common Indian’s psyche. That’s another thing that in the last decade, the rate of Muslim population growth has slackened significantly compared to that of the Hindu population and is at its lowest in India’s history.

The idea of India was never that of a Hindu nation or a nation first for the Hindus. B.R. Ambedkar, the chief architect of the Indian Constitution, categorically stated: “If Hindu Raj does become a fact, it will, no doubt, be the greatest calamity for this country. No matter what the Hindus say…Hindu Raj must be prevented at any cost.”

If at all the Supreme Court does not strike down the amended citizenship law, and in most likelihood a nationwide NRC is conducted, the only people who stand to lose their status as citizens of India are Muslims. The popular meme that says that a prime minister who can’t provide documents of his educational qualification expects documents from poor Muslims to prove their citizenship is becoming a reality quick.

Also read: Not Salman Khurshid, not Owaisi, Indian Muslims need a Shashi Tharoor

Mosques in Karnataka are reportedly already alerting people to start preparing documents of proof of citizenship because it’s only the Muslims, especially the poor, who will be singled out if their papers are incomplete.

The two-nation theory has been accepted by Modi and Shah now.

The author is a political observer and writer. Views are personal.

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  1. “The BJP wants to make India great again”

    India was never really great country. Always a street shitting poor shithole. Yea India is still poor country where the average Indian survives on less than a dollar a day.

    • Is secularism is given by chodu no 1 prophet Muhammad…tak sabhi non muslim ka gaad kuyu chodte phirta tha bo chodu no 1

  2. The founder of Constitution whom Ms Zainab is quoting also want all Muslims to be moved out 1947. Please read this clearly.

  3. Zainab,how many Muslim majorities countries are secular?are Muslim of our country are progressive & secular enough?

  4. @ranjith & @gururaj
    Let’s get to them very basic question. Is India ready to accept immigrants? Are the existing citizens’ life in a better state. Had the government eradicated poverty in the country? Had the homeless percent come to zero? Let’s be open and answer these. When my own people are struggling without food, it’s my first duty to get to them first before i can reach out to others?

    TheAnswers for all above questions are a big NO. Due this not prove that The BJP’s step to invite foreign Hindus and grant citizens has a motive behind it. They don’t care what their citizens struggle of. All they want is to slowly dilute the non Hindu population and declare hindutva within. Come on, let’s wake up

    • @Abdul What is wrong with it ? Hindus/Sikhs/Buddhists of Pakistan & Bangladesh had never asked for partition, they are victims of partition and those people are facing religious persecution for that even today. We owe them a responsibility. Present govt just fulfilling that obligations. We don’t have anything for Muslims of Pak and Bangladesh.

      • Your comment is irrelevant. Hindus/Sikhs/Buddhists of Pakistan & Bangladesh have nothing to do with what is going on. What the people of Northeast and other states don’t want are the “outsiders”, the people form other states, including the Hindus! It is the duty of the government to honor the wishes of its people, THE CITIZENS OF INDIA, and not the wishes of Hindus/Sikhs/Buddhists of Pakistan & Bangladesh, WHO ARE OUTSIDERS, AND NOT THE CITIZENS OF INDIA. If the government thinks it has a responsibility to these outsiders, then it has to find some other way to fulfill it!

        Now that the people of India don’t want the CAA, the best the government can do is to honor the wishes of the people, and roll back the damn law. What is going on across the country is really scary.

    • Haramichod, rohiyanga ke samay thohpura kapre khol kar nude islamic dance dikhaya tha…pahle jaa ke apne chodu no 1 prophet ko jaa ke secularism ka lecture do sab jagah haramichod non muslim women ka gaad chodta phirta tha….hum sabhi Hindus ko kaaba me jaa ke is chodu no 1 prophet Muhammad ko drag kar ke kabr se bahar nikalte aur ak ak kar is chodu ka gaad chodege for revenge

    • When muslims are in majority they want Islamic country where non-muslims are second class citizens, can not hold any constitutional posts. But when they are in minority they want a secular country with equal rights.
      What a hypocrisy

    • @Abdul
      Your population has grown from 9% in 1947 to 15%
      Better stop breeding like rats and contribute to India and not to your imaginary umma

  5. As a kid playing on the streets , one learnt a cardinal lesson , the bullies would generally win . And the bullied, if they protested would get whacked .So what would a bullied kid hope for , grow up as soon as possible and enter in to an imagined world of adult sobriety and justice . So one imagined that lumpen bullying was something that was associated with childhood .Of course when you grow in to an adult , you realize , it is not that simple . Some times sane sober and well meaning people lapse in to the most horrid kind of bullying . But the good thing about adult life is , these get documented and once in a while gets criticized too .

  6. This article author and these protestors are fighting for Muslim ummah and now we know these universities brainwash students for another partition of India.
    They are fighting for illegal Muslims who entered india from two Islamic states.
    Two muslim countries.
    Already on Twitter we have seen Muslims asking for another partition of India.
    Indian majority has suffered too much. One account was showing swastika and calling it fascism. Not only no sympathy for minorities in the neighbouring countries but they are showing rabid anti-hindu biases.
    This will help bjp in the long term. Remember. These protests were call for Muslims of subcontinent with chants of la ilah illilah. Not for secularism but for their illegal Muslims.
    Create two countries out of Pak and Bangladesh for Hindus only if you don’t want them to come to India.
    And Indian media has shown has left, congress it is at core. They are satellites of west. And clearly hindu phobic.

  7. Hi, as far as the CAA is concerned its very clear that illegal foreigners ( Foreign Muslims that is from Pakistan, Bangladesh and Afghanistan) will not be given citizenship, I can’t understand whats the big deal in it. They can avail a visa and stay for economic reasons., which is the norm in any country. Citizenship can be given to the expat is purely a sovereign government right.
    What we are seeing is that many commentators and opposition parties had made it that its the Indian Muslims are going to be in trouble on citizenship, which is a total lie and instigating. Zainab even in your article you are not making it clear that which Muslims is going to be effected. If someone reads your article they will think that its the Indian Muslims who will be targeted which is far from the fact.

  8. Muslim immigrants are a source of headache and nuisance to the host country, wherever they go. They won’t stay put with gratitude. They start grievance mongering, join radicals, and start plotting against the host country. See the experience of Europe and America. But, why should Indian Muslims be worried? They are Indians, born here. If at all anyone should be worried, it is the Bengali speaking Muslims who have now proliferated throughout the country, including the hinterlands in southern States.

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