OPINION | Making Sense of Anti-CAA Hysteria
The NRC or National Registrar of Citizens is yet to be even formulated. But some people who call themselves ‘liberal’ have already concluded the contours of the policy in their own minds.
Protestors hold placards during a demonstration against the Citizenship Amendment Act, in Chennai on December 19, 2019. (PTI Photo)
I have been a student of Delhi University and done my post-graduation from London School of Economics. I have seen student politics from close quarters. The importance of education to present a reasoned stance cannot be emphasized upon. This is the reason why I find the recent anti-Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) protests, in the name of students, extremely contrived and ill-informed. Here is why.
The NRC or National Registrar of Citizens is yet to be even formulated. But some people who call themselves ‘liberal’ have already concluded the contours of the policy in their own minds. By taking Assam NRC out of context, spreading complete lies or half-truths that the same would be implemented as-is across the country is not an innocent mistake. It is a well-calculated move to show the Modi government as a xenophobic, fascist regime out to cleanse the Indian society of its Muslim brethren.
Those who know India know that such a proposition is not only preposterous, but is also downright vile, meant to spread social disharmony. The signs of this have already been witnessed across cities, where the protests have turned violent, public property has been damaged and lives have been endangered.
Those who want to think before plunging into hysteria are being forced to speak up against the regime. Their “silence” is touted as approval for fascism. If you cannot allow someone to make up his or her own mind, that is fascism. What is being witnessed is intolerance of the highest order from the so-called protectors of freedom of speech. In their limited universe, they are the ultimate authority in interpreting the constitutional validity of a law discussed, debated and passed in the Parliament. Anyone trying to present facts is being bullied till they succumb to the “woke” approved reality.
It is a misnomer that the Indian Muslims would stand against opening the route of citizenship to refugees persecuted for their religious belief in Pakistan, Bangladesh and Afghanistan. It is an act of compassion and India’s moral obligation to provide safe shelter to those abandoned due to partition on religious lines. They ended up in nations with state religion defined as Islam. With limited recourse to state protection, these communities were left to fend for themselves in the face of subjugation and intimidation from the Islamists.
The Indian Muslim, who has absolutely nothing to worry in the Citizenship Amendment Act, is repeatedly being told that CAA when combined with NRC would pave way for revocation of their citizenship. Multiple videos have emerged where the protestors don’t even know what CAA entails. They are admittedly being told that CAA followed by NRC would make them non-citizens. They would be put in detention camps and sent out of the country.
None of this is even remotely backed by any official communication. It is completely based on hearsay. In fact, Shahi Imam of Jama Masjid and the spiritual head of Ajmer Dargah Zainul Abedin Ali Khan have tried to clear the air. They have come out in open assuring Indian Muslims that CAA has nothing to do with them. Many sane voices from Indian Muslims who have actually read the law are being derided, disparaged and dismissed. Instead, rabid Islamists are being mainstreamed and made face of the movement. The two Jamia female students who were applauded for their courage turned out to be extremist, self-proclaimed ‘anti-secular’, and had a history of mouthing Islamic rants.
Behind the scenes of a rioting mob, an invisible political hand seems to be working. In Delhi, AAP MLAs have been caught making provocative speeches, leading the mob and even spreading fake news. In UP, SP leaders have been detained for causing riots. In Ahmedabad, MLA Jignesh Mevani led the mobs, even when Section 144 was in place. The protestors soon turned violent, attacking police vans.
The students, the media and the Indian Muslims are being used as shields to create a smokescreen around a brazen display of mob violence. We are being told that it is a student movement. However, protests of serious nature have been held in just four universities. In some other universities, a handful of students stood holding placards against the CAA. But India has more than 400 universities. The students from these universities are silent, which according to the “liberal” folks is a sign of support for CAA. Should we then assume that a wide majority of Indian students stands firmly behind CAA?
Considering the kind of usual suspects supporting the anti-CAA protest, one could not help but be skeptical about the actual motive behind the agitation.
It does, then, make one think that what are these protests really about. Are these protests really about CAA or just another ploy of an invisible hand to destabilize India?
The author has done her Masters from London School of Economics in Political Sociology. She is currently working as a political researcher at a New Delhi based Think Tank. Views expressed are personal.
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