Indian NRC & CAB — Failing Indian narrative


Amjad Mahmood

INDIA took almost seven decades in creating an im
age of being a secular, democratic, liberal, progres
sive and tolerant society but it consumed barley seven years to burst that fake bubble. Elections of 2019 became a watershed for a new India, the contest between Gandhi’s ideology and Godse’s belief (killer of Gandhi, who belonged to RSS) was decisively won by radicals and India entered an uncharted territory of establishing of Hindutva Republic, decimating liberal India beyond recognition. The Hindu India however could only be achieved by squeezing minorities financially, stripping them of their rights, degrading them to a lower category of citizens, disregarding their religious beliefs and surrounding them in a suffocating cauldron where either they convert or leave Bharat Mata (Mother India).Since then, world observed an exponential rise in rapes, mob lynching and killings all across the country with public calls for mal-treating minorities, specially for Muslims are reflective of the ripple effect of new policies.
Rajshree Chandra in Indian Wire magazine points to strategic suffocation of minorities in India and how it is creating apartheid of its kind. She made an intellectual and comprehensive argument, terming these ‘others’ as ‘foreign-bodies”, who are identified by RSS as enemies of the nation, to be subjugated, sacrificed and made socially disposable. What then could be some of the ways in which these ‘foreign bodies’ are to be disciplined and punished? In a nutshell, RSS agenda for establishing the Hindutva Republic by 2023 cannot be implemented till the time ‘others’ are eliminated as a social group, stigmatized and suffocated to live like sub-humans. Amid this anti-minority hype, India introduced NRC (National Registration of Citizens) aiming to identify ‘illegal immigrants’. To be eligible for the citizenship of India, people of Assam would have to prove that either they or their ancestors were in India on or before March 24, 1971, the eve of the Bangladesh War led by Indian conspiracies. The bill was estimated to make 1.9 – 2.0 million people stateless (all those not included the list will have to prove their citizenship in quasi-judicial courts – known as Foreign Tribunals and subsequently in higher courts within 120 days). The law has a geographical application (mainly Asaam which borders Bangladesh).
While world and people were attempting to comprehend their response, Modi government came up with CAB (Citizens Amendment Bill), an act for granting Indian citizenship to illegal migrants who are Hindus, Sikhs, Buddhists, Jains, Parsis and Christians from Afghanistan, Bangladesh and Pakistan, who entered India on or before 31 December 2014. The Act excludes Muslims from such eligibility with beneficiaries of likely to reach approx 30,000 people. CAB when read in combo with NRC is evidently anti-Muslim in essence and tramples basic human rights.
The Indian act drew immediate and harsh criticism from all quarters both domestic and international. UN HR stated that proposed law to grant citizen ship based on religion violates India international obligations and is fundamentally discriminatory; United States Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) sought sanctions against Indian Home Minister Amit Shah and other principal leadership if the controversial act is passed by Parliament. Violent clashes erupted in New Delhi over the legislation spreading to other regions and prompting Japan’s PM and Bangladeshi Foreign and Home Ministers to cancel visits. Thousands took to the streets of Assam’s capital Guwahati for the third day against the CAB ignoring curfew. About 5,000 paramilitary troops have been deployed in Guwahati where protesters set fire to vehicles/buildings and battled security forces. A 48-hour block on both mobile and broadband internet was implemented, while schools were closed and roads blocked off.The Indian Union Muslim League (IUML) has already moved SC against the bill. Recently, an attempt to dovetail Pakistan was made by INC’s Shashi Tahroor when he called new India “a reduced version of Hindutva Pakistan”, however, was responded well by Pakistan through social media when he was reminded that today Mr Jinnah’s two-nation theory stands validated. What founder of Pakistan, Quaid-i-Azam (the great leader) who was once regarded as Ambassador of Hindu-Muslim Unity had seen in 1947, Indian minorities are getting aware of it today.
While Indian Establishment is still clinging on to terrorism mantra, it fails to realise that the tide has changed. With Pakistan’s victory in war on terror (a rare feat achieved in the world), ISIS and AQ defeated in other parts of the world, US lies about winning war in Afghanistan (implying false accusations on Pakistan and DO MORE related threats) and more importantly brutalities in IoK, India badly needs a new narrative. At the moment the only narrative India is radiating is being written within geographical bounds of India. With social media cries of Rape Capital of the World, Rapistan and Gay Hind, India is not placed in a comfortable scenario. World is also awakening to fear raised by PM Imran Khan in UNGA 2019 session regarding Modi/RSS mindset which is coming true. While two bills have tarnished Indian image in world, it also has further bruised her relations with countries in the neighbourhood ie Bangladesh, Afghanistan and Sri Lanka. The negative impact of bill will soon be visible in wider diplomatic fallout, reduced investment slowing down an economy already under stress and a ruptured society worst known for sexual crimes against women, ethnic and religious bigotry. While Pakistan was worried about raised Indianisation of Kashmir, these bills have Kashmirised India.
The new India may be a surprise for the world but not for Pakistan. Indian annexation of J&K also stems from similar mindset where it intends to change the Muslim majority region demographically and administratively in order to establish a new order through force and legislation. Eastern Indian states have already taken a clue from abrogation of Article-370 in the IoK with Manipur announcing independence. Logically, the BJP/RSS concept shall sooner or later is destined to consume other minorities too. If correctly analysed, India is swiftly branding herself as Israeli franchise of South Asia or Asian Nazis. Unless world views Indian transformation from secularism to extremism through prism of human/minority rights and religious freedom, NEW INDIA is likely to inspire future ethnic and religious based conflicts around the globe.
—The writer occasionally contributes for national media on varied subjects.