India’s anti-Muslim immigrant law

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Sajjad Shaukat
SINCE the leader of the Awami League (AL) and Prime Minister of Bangladesh Sheikh Hasina Wajid came to power, she has been fulfilling Indian interests at the cost of Pakistan. In pursuance of Indian secret directions by conducting anti-Pakistan campaign, after passing of 42 years to the events of 1971, which resulted into the separation of East Pakistan – in connivance with the judiciary, she hurriedly executed her political opponent Abdul Qadir Mullah – leader of Jamaat-e-Islami (JI), along with some other leaders of the JI. By setting aside the water dispute and border issue with India, during her visit to New Delhi on 8 April 2017, she signed 22 agreements with the Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi in the fields of defence cooperation, civil nuclear energy and many others. Opposition parties criticized the defence deal by saying that Hasina Wajid wants Bangladesh to become a colony of India.
Notably, Sheikh Hasina had won the general election-2014 in the wake of bloodshed due to her dictatorial steps – head of the Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP), Begum Khaleda Zia who was leading the alliance of the opposition parties had boycotted the general election. Police besieged Begum Khaleda Zia in her office. PM Hasina amended the constitution for holding of elections under a non-party setup and the opposition accused her of manipulating the electoral process to establish one party state. Regarding general election-2018, the opposition parties, foreign governments, media and human rights activists said that the ruling party (AL) was involved in vote-rigging in the elections which were marred by deadly clashes and a crackdown on the media. On 8 February 2018, in collaboration with the government, a court in Dhaka sentenced the two-time {former} Prime Minister Khaleda Zia to five-year rigorous imprisonment.
Taking cognizance of Hasina Wajid’s pro-Indian tilt, a writer has rightly remarked, “Hasina Wajid again started Honey Moon Period of relationship with India.” But, this relationship proved fruitless since Indian fanatic government adopted the anti-Muslims law – the Indian Citizenship Amendment Act 2019 (CAA), passed by the Indian Parliament. The CAA (The National Register of Citizenship) is against the Muslim immigrants from Pakistan, Bangladesh and Afghanistan. Despite violent protests across India, the Modi-led government has not withdrawn the CAA. In this respect, quoting sources, the Indian news website The Print.in on 22 and 30 December 2019 reported: “CAA is one of the world’s greatest discriminatory laws based on religion…The citizenship law is against the Indian Constitution…Apart from destabilizing the internal situation…The implementation of CAA means millions of stateless refugees (mainly Muslims) and Bangladesh being in close proximity and access will have to bear the maximum load…The fundamentalist BJP party, owing to its strength in Parliament has chosen a path to make India a pure breed Hindu country. The amended Citizenship Act is an injustice not only against the Muslim community, but also Dalits, Tribal (Adivasi), Vanvasi, Tamil, Gorkha and atheist…Bangladesh has sought a written assurance from the Narendra Modi government that it won’t send immigrants across the border after the enactment of the Citizenship Amendment Act.
The Bangladesh government had made a similar demand when PM Bangladesh was on a private visit to India after the NRC exercise was carried out in Assam. At the time, India had given a verbal assurance to Bangladesh that those rendered “foreigners” under the NRC in Assam will not be sent to Bangladesh. However, it had refused to give a written assurance, stating that the exercise was carried out as per directions of the Supreme Court. However, after the passage of CAA in Parliament, fresh concerns have cropped up within the political leadership in Bangladesh that India may now “push” Muslim immigrants deemed illegal under the Act across the border….India does not seem to have given any kind of assurance to Dhaka…A visit to India by Bangladesh Foreign Affairs Minister A.K. Abdul Momen and Home Affairs Minister Asaduzzaman Khan was also cancelled as tension peaked in India over the CAA.”
Fearing that Muslim refugees, living in India might return to Bangladesh, the Bangladesh government on 31 December 2019 suspended mobile services in areas along the border. The decision has affected around 10 million users in 32 districts of Bangladesh. It is mentionable that Bangladesh had faced similar situation when Rohingyas from Myanmar’s Rakhine State started facing forcible displacement in 2015. They were considered stateless entities as the Myanmar government does not recognise them as an ethnic group – thousands had to escape to refugee camps in Bangladesh. Cox Bazar largest refugee camp, as more than 900,000 Rohingyas immigration of Bengalis from India will aggravate situation. The international community must be made aware of the mess India has created. More over the staunch attitude of Indian government despite serious indicators and warnings clearly indicate a neo-Nazi mindset driven by the RSS ideology. The Indian extremist rulers have not paid any kind of attention to voices of concern from international community. Western countries, particularly the US, UK, EU and OIC have communicated their point of view to New Delhi. But, BJP is taking full leverage of its huge market and trade relations with them and has ignored all kinds of concern. Therefore, using the CAA-NRC to advance the anti-Muslim political agenda of the BJP and the RSS, besides Pakistan, New Delhi has also targeted Bangladesh.
—The writer is freelance columnist based in Lahore.