If you are aware or conscious of what is happening in the world, you may have heard about the madness that is taking place in India. It is madness that I struggle to fully understand but I know that it is not something that makes me proud of my country. I have tried my best to make the issue as clear as possible to try and help you understand as well.
The first thing to know is that the ruling party of India is known as BJP and they are trying to push for the country to be an entirely Hindu Nation. The BJP is now in its second term of governance, which means they have been making the country’s decisions for the past five years.
The problem first came to a head in Assam, when the government started targeting Muslim refugees who came across the border from Myanmar and Bangladesh. According to the National Register of Citizens (NRC) those who are unable to prove their citizenship could be sent to detention camps or be deported. On Nov. 27 2019, it was revealed to the country that there were six detention centers that were holding 1,043 people. The buildings that are acting as the centers are the district jails. The Supreme Court has stated that the illegal immigrants can be held for three years, and only then will they be eligible for bail. This law will eventually be implemented throughout the country according to the home minister, Amit Shah.
The BJP has recently proposed a law called the Citizenship Amendment Bill, CAB which was passed by the Supreme Court in December of 2019. This involves the process of granting citizenship to refugees. The CAB provides fast track citizenship to all minorities who are escaping religious persecution in Bangladesh, Pakistan, and Afghanistan. The minorities include Christians, Hindus, Jains, Sikhs, Parsis and Buddhists. The only group that has been singled out are Muslims who will not be considered a priority for receiving citizenship. Because of the BJP’s track record of the way they have treated Muslims in the past, many people in the country are not convinced that the government plans on granting them citizenship at all.
As a result of CAB, people who are proud of the fact that India is a secular country with diverse cultures and religions have begun protesting. Everyone is coming together to protest regardless of their religious beliefs. In response many people have become victims to police brutality. There were two recent protests at well known universities in India, JNU and Jamia Milia Islamia, where police brutality became international news.
One noteworthy protest led by mostly Muslim women is known as the Shaheen Bagh protest in India’s capital, Delhi. It is an ongoing 24/7 sit in peaceful protest that started along with the passing of the CAB. The police is not intervening in this protest. The protesters have blocked a major highway while using non-violent resistance. It is now the longest ongoing protest in response to the latest laws being proposed and passed, and to the police brutality over the past few weeks.
India has signed the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and the Covenant for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination. This means that India has taken a vow to not take part in racial, ethnic or religious discrimination, yet the country is divided over a law that is doing just that.
There are many other issues that India is facing, a major one being Kashmir. The government took away the special status of the state. The special status gave them a separate constitution, a state flag, and control over matters concerning the state. As a result, the state is currently facing poor conditions such as internet shutdowns, closure of basic services, and fear of uprisings against the government’s move.
Another issue is that India is in the middle of an economic crisis where the GDP is dropping at rapid rates. In the July-September quarter alone, it dropped by 4.5 %. In addition to that, unemployment rates have risen. The issues that need to be addressed are being ignored by the government and most people feel that BJP is trying to divert the attention of the nation by creating huge points of debate and protests around the country.
Although the law does not threaten to displace me (yet), it threatens cultural and religious diversity of my country. I am grateful for the chance to speak out, as my thoughts are reflected in the words of Martin Niemöller:
“First they came for the Jews
And I did not speak out
Because I was not a Jew.
Then they came for the Communists
And I did not speak out
Because I was not a Communist.
Then They came for the trade unionists
And I did not speak out
Because I was not a trade unionist.
Then they came for me
And there was no one left
To speak out for me.”