LETTERS: I refer to the letter “India’s CAA does not discriminate against Muslims” (NST, Jan 24).
The Indian Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA), coupled with the National Register of Citizens (NRC), specifically aims to not only discriminate against the Indian Muslims but also to render them stateless.
The NRC will be a national register of all Indian nationals. Effectively, Indian residents who are included in the NRC will be Indian citizens, and those excluded will become stateless and most probably placed in camps or deported to other countries.
Once this is done, the CAA will come into play. The stateless Hindus, Christians, Sikhs, Buddhists and other non-Muslims will be fast-tracked to Indian nationality under the CAA, while Muslims will become illegal “migrants”.
The UK’s Economist magazine quoted Amit Shah, the Indian Home Minister from BJP (the ruling party in India), that “Muslim migrants” would “be thrown out” of India.
Reuters also reported that Amit Shah referred to the Muslim migrants as “termites” and has promised to “throw them into the Bay of Bengal”.
The BJP government has repeatedly stated that all Muslims who are “citizens” of India will not be affected by this exercise.
That begs the question — how will the more than 200 million Indian Muslims prove that they are Indian citizens?
The uninformed living in more developed countries may think that surely the Indian Muslims can provide proof of their Indian nationality.
Surely all Indians possess proof of birth in India, such as a birth certificate, they will think.
Unfortunately, this is not the case. In India, as in the rest of the sub-continent, a huge number of children (Muslim and Hindu) are born without their parents registering their birth with the relevant authorities (and thereby obtaining the child’s birth certificate).
There are many reasons for this failure by the parents—they may be semi-literate or illiterate, they may live in rural areas far away from government offices, or they may not have the money to pay off the relevant government officials for the service.
For those who are not well versed with the issue, one simple fact should be enough to demonstrate the government’s intention towards the Indian Muslims: The government has commenced the process of setting up camps to hold the “migrants” identified through the NRC exercise.
There are plans to establish these camps all over India. It should be noted that the BJP government had approved on Dec 24 the expenditure of about US$55 million for the first stage of the NRC.
The exercise is scheduled to commence in April. The one piece of good news is that there has been a strong backlash within India against the move.
Along with the Indian Muslims, a very large number of Indian Hindus, Sikhs, Christians, Buddhists and other non-Muslims have been resolutely opposing the CAA/NRC.
Their opposition is based on the Indian constitution, which forbids discrimination on the basis of religion.
The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect those of the New Straits Times