India’s constitution ensures India is a secular and democratic country. The Indian Constitution guarantees that it will not discriminate on the basis of religion, race, sex, creed or color. Seen as the land of Mahatma Gandhi, a global symbol of non-violence and peace and as “the world’s largest democracy”, India prides itself on this very fact.
But the judicial and democratic institutions of India have lost their democratic identity in today’s India. The recent “Citizenship Amendment Act” (CAA or “Citizenship Act”) has sparked a lot of criticism and protest from within India and within the international community. The Act is being resisted nation-wide within India, as it clearly discriminates on the basis of religion, and is unequivocally against the basic structure and ethos of the Constitution of India. This is because the CAA specifically targets Muslims by barring Muslims from applying for Indian Citizenship; in contrast to members of other religious groups (such as Hindus, Sikhs, Jain, etc.) applying for citizenship under the same exact circumstances as their Muslim peers.
Under Prime Minister Narendra Modi and the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) party, India is bracing itself for a majoritarian and authoritarian form of governance. The BJP is the political extension of the Hindu right-wing, ultra-nationalist, paramilitary organization Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) in India. Both are founded on a majoritarian, far-right, ethnonationalist political ideology.
Hindutva is fascism. Hindutva promotes the racial superiority of Hindus and uses this to marginalize and demonize all else in India as invaders and foreigners. Laws like the CAA, NRC (National Register of Citizens), and NPR (National Population Register) are aimed at achieving this by disempowering minorities, and transforming India from a secular democracy to a Hindu Rashtra (Hindu Nation).
In the state of Assam, India has already declared 1.9 million people as foreigners under the National Register of Citizens (NRC). Despite having been born and living in India for decades, thousands of Muslims have already been put in detention camps in Assam after being illegally declared as foreigners under the NRC. There have been shocking incidents where Muslim veterans of the Indian Army have been forced into Assam’s detention camps.In this way, Modi and the BJP ruling party, is able to “legally” expel Muslims from India, thereby creating the Hindu Rashtra they desire. Click To Tweet
More than a million of those declared foreigners though are not Muslim; many are Hindu. As a result, India has enacted the CAA (“Citizenship Act”) for non-Muslims impacted by the National Register of Citizens. Therefore, for those who are not Muslim, and who wish to apply for citizenship, the Citizenship Act provides an easy pathway for all those excluded from the National Register of Citizens. Again, with the EXCEPTION of Muslims. In this way, Modi and the BJP ruling party, is able to “legally” expel Muslims from India, thereby creating the Hindu Rashtra they desire. This leaves thousands of Muslims to be interned en masse into detention centers.
Apart from the CAA, NRC and NPR, the BJP government in early August of 2019, abolished Article 370 and 35A of the Indian Constitution, while they were sub-judice (under judicial consideration and therefore prohibited from being legislated upon in parliament) in India’s Supreme Court. Despite the Indian Supreme Court ruling twice that these Articles cannot be removed from the Constitution, as they both define the basic relationship of India with the semi-autonomous state of Jammu and Kashmir.
The majority of jurists and members of the legal fraternity, including India’s leading lawyer and former Union law minister Ram Jethmalani, have always maintained that the abrogation of Article 370 makes India an occupying force in the disputed state of Jammu and Kashmir. Yet, in clear violation of its own Constitution, parliamentary procedure, legal process and without any authority– India’s government, led by the BJP, merged the disputed state of Jammu and Kashmir into its Union Territory on October 31, 2019.
Unlike the states of India, which have their own governments, union territories are federal territories controlled and governed directly by the central Government of India. Union territories do not have their own governments, and they are ruled directly by the central government through a lieutenant governor as the administrator (who is appointed by the Central government). The Indian government has taken away rights over land from the Muslim residents of Jammu and Kashmir, who crossed to Pakistan- administered Jammu and Kashmir after fleeing communal violence in Indian-occupied Kashmir. In contrast to this move against its Muslim population, the government has awarded citizenship to Hindu Pakistani Refugees residing in the Muslim majority former state of Jammu and Kashmir. The objective being to change the demography of the area.The Indian government’s actions can be compared to that of Burma (Myanmar). In 1982, the Myanmar government brought amendments to its citizenships laws, leading to the disenfranchisement of the indigenous Rohingya Muslim community. Click To Tweet
The Indian government’s actions can be compared to that of Burma (Myanmar). In 1982, the Myanmar government brought amendments to its citizenships laws, leading to the disenfranchisement of the indigenous Rohingya Muslim community. In India’s last election, the BJP did not ask for votes from Muslims, nor did they field any Muslim candidates. With similar objectives, the BJP is planning and setting up procedures to legally disenfranchise India’s Muslims. The fate of more than 200 million Muslims in India remains dreadful with the rising influence of the Hindutva ideology, and explicit abolition of the democratic credentials of India.