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Citizenship Amendment Act – Jamia students speak up

December 20, 2019

On December 12th India formally approved the Citizenship (Amendment) Act which seeks to amend the definition of an illegal immigrant for Hindu, Sikh, Parsi, Buddhist and Christian immigrants from Pakistan, Afghanistan and Bangladesh, who have lived in India without documentation. The passing of the act has seen widespread protests across India.

The legislation applies to those who were “forced or compelled to seek shelter in India due to persecution on the ground of religion”. It aims to protect such people from proceedings of illegal migration. The cut-off date for citizenship is December 31, 2014, which means the applicant should have entered India on or before that date. Indian citizenship, under present law, is given either to those born in India or if they have resided in the country for a minimum of 11 years. The act also proposes to incorporate a sub-section (d) to Section 7, providing for cancellation of Overseas Citizen of India (OCI) registration where the OCI card-holder has violated any provision of the Citizenship Act or any other law in force

The govt says that these minority groups come to India, a predominantly Hindu majority country yet secular in nature, escaping persecution in Muslim-majority nations. But the logic is not consistent – the Act, for instance, does not protect all religious minorities, nor does it apply to all neighbours. The Ahmedia Muslim sect and even Shias face discrimination in Pakistan. Rohingya Muslims and Hindus face persecution in neighbouring Burma, and Hindu and Christian Tamils in neighbouring Sri Lanka. The government responds that Muslims can seek refuge in Islamic nations, but has not answered the other questions related to this. In that sense, the CAA is an exclusionary Act by nature & not inclusive. 

Following the passing of the CAA,  protests broke out in Assam where the government had implemented a statewide NRC which left 19 lakh people off the final list, an overwhelming part of them being Hindus. Those from northeast of India contest that CAA is an anti-indigenous law and is aimed at naturalising those Hindus who were declared illegal through the NRC process. The protests then spread across other North-Eastern states and the internet was soon suspended. Simultaneous protests broke out in Aligarh Muslim University in Aligarh, Uttar Pradesh & then in Jamia Milia Islamia University in Delhi, whose students contest that the CAA, when seen in conjunction with NRC, is not only unconstitutional but also impacts the secular fabric of Indian constitution. Three days back what were peaceful protests being held by students of Jamia and Aligarh universities turned violent with police barging into hostels and libraries and brutally attacking students. 

In this episode of The Suno India Show, we bring to you voices of students of Jamia from before the clashes with police and after. This story has been reported by our intern Rishabh Jain, Senior journalist Menaka Rao and Kunika Balhotra. 

Rishabh is a student of Jamia and recorded this interview a day before the violent attack by Delhi police. Menaka Rao went to the hospitals and spoke to students who were injured and their families. And our researcher, Kunika attended a press conference organised by activists and students of Jamia and AMU and interviewed Fawaz on what has happened at AMU and how the atrocity is as bad if not worse than what has happened at Jamia.

Citizenship Amendment Act – Jamia students speak up