A Proxy War on Minorities? India Crafts Citizenship and Refugee Policies through the Lens of Religion

by Dilek Yucel

Author: Neeraj Kaushal

Affiliation: Columbia University 

Organization/Publisher: Migration Policy Institute

Date/Place: April 16, 2020/ Washington DC, USA

Type of Literature: Article

Word Count:  3327

Link: https://www.migrationpolicy.org/article/india-controversial-citizenship-amendment-act-register-citizens

Keywords: Proxy War, Minorities, Refugee Policies, Citizenship, India

 

Brief:

Neeraj Kaushal refers to the newly enacted Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA), which amended the 1955 citizenship law and clearly violates India’s secular constitution. The act enables non-Muslim refugees from Pakistan, Afghanistan, and Bangladesh to receive citizenship, while Muslim refugees are denied this privilege. Nonetheless, the citizenship law has drawn more than 140 petitions challenging it. The author explains that the Modi government justifies its action by claiming that the Indian National Congress party was appeasing Muslims to gain votes and neglected Hindus, who were facing persecution and threats of forced conversion to Islam. Additionally, the government tries to create a narrative especially against people from Bangladesh by claiming that millions of Bangladeshis are illegally in India and that they should be detected and deported. As a result, the BJP defends the CAA as a “humanitarian gesture towards non-Muslim minorities who have fled Afghanistan, Pakistan, and Bangladesh.” By explaining that the amount of foreign born people in India is less than 0.5 percent, that India is no longer a pull country for immigrants from Bangladesh, and that the GDP of Bangladesh has outstripped India’s GDP, the author presents how BJP leaders still make electoral gains with Hindus, Parsis, Buddhists, Christians, Jains and Sikh refugees who aim to receive citizenship; with exclusionary politics towards Muslims. The CAA and the NRC (National Register of Citizens) “are part of a larger agenda to openly suppress and even coerce Muslims,” and further serve the BJP in making a proxy war on Muslims through the usage of immigrant and refugee policies. The author concludes that it is questionable whether the NRC can be implemented when many state governments are against the CAA and that the final decision lies with the Supreme Court, which could position itself against the act by emphasizing the secular constitution of India. 

 

By: Dilek Yücel-Kamadan, CIGA Research Associate

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