The Citizenship (Amendment) Act

The Citizenship (Amendment) Act is a piece of legislation that offers fast-track citizenship to persecuted minorities (Hindus, Sikhs, Zoroastrians, Jains, Buddhists) of only three Muslim-majority neighboring countries (Afghanistan, Pakistan, and Bangladesh). These can be refugees already in India, ones seeking asylum, or those who have yet to arrive in the country.

While it is noble in that it helps out wrongfully-persecuted communities that bear the brunt of majoritarianism in neighbouring countries, this is fundamentally discriminatory in that Muslims are excluded. That too, Muslim minorities like Shiites, Hazaras, Ahmadis, Ismaliis, and etc.

Why are these initiatives are problematic 

Ironically, some who did not qualify for the NRC turned out to be Hindu. Yet in the broader context of the parallel CAA legislation, everyone except Muslims can get citizenship. This only leaves Muslims vulnerable to NRC detention camps.

These NRC centers are more likely to be implemented in BJP-ruled states. The opposition Congress party, other regional parties have either outright condemned both initiatives or have pointed out some sort of macro and micro problems with both initiatives.

Yet, even external intelligence security has pointed out problematic aspects of the CAA when it was a bill in that it doesn’t map out specific guidelines as to how authorities will ascertain if someone is a persecuted Hindu, Sikh, Zoroastrian, Jain, or Buddhist from Afghanistan, Pakistan, or Bangladesh.

One can see that these are reminiscent of the way citizenship ship was weaponized against Jews a la the anti-Semitic Nuremberg Laws of 1935. This was one of the many foundations of the historic, tragic genocide of Jews by Adolf Hitler’s regime.

The National Register of Citizens 

A parallel initiative of this is the National Register of Citizens (NRC) which seeks to verify whether someone is an illegal immigrant in India. While the need to curb illegal immigration is a legitimate one, the parameters to determine whether someone qualifies as a legal citizen via the National Register of Citizens (NRC) are very tenuous at best.

Anybody who does not qualify for the NRC will be expelled from the country or automatically placed into a detention center. These centers are reminiscent of concentration camps that were integral to the genocide of Jews in Nazi Germany.

In Assam, where the BJP came into power, the final NRC was published in mid-2019. The conditions to be included in the NRC were that one had to prove that they, their parents, or grandparents entered on or after March 25 1971 through some certificate such as a bank statement, any form of ID, or official document. Many in  Assam could not prove their citizenship even within the vague parameters of what constitutes as legitimate documentation

sadaf jafar

‘They beat me. They mouthed the filthiest abuses that you won’t be able to print. They did not give me food and water. I was completely dehumanised’

The tragic demise of a ‘declared foreigner’ at Goalpara detention centre

Soon after Prime Minister Narendra Modi said that there were no detention centres in the country, Naresh Koch, a detainee in the Goalpara detention centre in Assam, breathed his last at the Guwahati Medical College and Hospital, the 29th death in a detention center

Inside NRC’s sham trials where the largest purge in Indian history is playing out

Tens of thousands of people have been declared illegal in India’s Foreigners Tribunals, that are basically opaque courts unique to Assam. An investigation by Vice News has revealed the tribunals to be rife with bias, inconsistency, and error, with devastating consequences for victims


The Assam NRC was not an anti-Muslim project. But an all-India NRC based on the NPR will allow the executive to pick whose citizenship it wishes to question. Officials are free to adopt varying standards for different citizens, which could lead to capricious targeting of citizens

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