I was glad to join the Global Day of Action against the Citizenship (Amendment) Act brought by the BJP in India today in London, as chair of Stop the War Coalition.
The Citizenship (Amendments) Act as brought in by the BJP in India has caused huge nationwide protests, involving people of various religions, professions, castes and classes, such that we haven’t seen since the freedom struggle, took place in India.
And why maybe this so? The CAA & the National Registration of Citizens (NRC) hits at the heart of the very nature of the Indian state constitution of being a sovereign, socialist, secular & democratic republic and its multi-ethnic & multi religious Indian identity
Modi’s government says its doing this on the pretext of offering citizenship to “persecuted refugees” from three nearby countries (Pakistan, Bangladesh and Afghanistan) But not, say the Rohingyas from Myanmar? Why is there a difference between them? Has it got something to do with three of them being Muslim majority states! On the basis of the BJP’s CAA Act, such desperate political refugees like the Rohingyas moving onto the sub-continent would have no basis of making a claim for citizenships.
We have also seen in Indian politics the return of a federalism as well as a response to these events. that the BJP is are even more bitterly hostile to than Indira Gandhi ever was. As six states – West Bengal, Kerala, Punjab, Chhattisgarh, Madhya Pradesh and Odisha – have refused to participate in Delhi’s plan for a nationwide NRC.
Many individuals have also begun to go into the civil disobedience mode that Indians adopted under the British, saying they would either not furnish papers for the NRC or that they would declare themselves Muslim. And would you believe it, Modi government are even using desperate restrictions from the colonial-era section 144 (proscribing a gathering of more than four persons) to restrict mass protest.
So l was glad to speak and defend the multi-ethnic & religious identity of being an Indian in a constitution that is a socialist, secular, democratic republic
And personally l also welcome a return to federalism as states like West Bengali who refuse to take part in the National Registrar of Citizens (NRC) and the BJP attempt to enforce their Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA).