Zubair Yaqoob – December 13, 2019
Seems to pass a week in which it does not come in India to mass protests. But the riots in the states of Assam and Tripura in Northeast India in recent days have been particularly violent.
According to Indian media reports, cars were lit, stones thrown and barriers demolished. The police used tear gas and water cannons against the protesters. Several demonstrators are also said to have been injured by live ammunition.
There were numerous arrests. Additional troops were transferred to the protest area. Due to the uncertain situation, airlines have canceled flights, closed the train operator connections and imposed a curfew on the authorities. Access to the internet has also been partially restricted.
“New law discriminates against Muslims in India and could lead to increase immigration”
The riots are prompted by the adoption of a new law to help non-Muslim migrants from Afghanistan, Bangladesh and Pakistan gain Indian citizenship. The law passed by both chambers of parliament on Tuesday and Wednesday is very controversial.
It is deplored that the law discriminates against Muslims and could lead to increased immigration, especially from Bangladesh. It permits the naturalization of members of religious minorities from the three countries, who immigrated illegally by the end of 2014. Citizenship will in future be granted in six instead of eleven years.
But included are only Buddhists, Christians, Hindus, Jain, Sikhs and Parses, who are persecuted in the three countries partly because of their religious affiliation. Muslims are not listed. It is estimated that the new law will benefit some 30,000 people.
“This law will provide relief to many who have suffered persecution for years,” Narendra Modi wrote on twitter. The farewell was a “milestone”. Critics see the law as another step for the Hindu nationalist government to turn the traditionally multicultural and multi-religious India into a Hindu state.
The victims are mainly the Muslims, who account for about 14 percent of the population in India. The riots were particularly intense in Guwahati, the largest city in Assam.
In the northeast Indian state, the new law is also seen in connection with a new population register, which threatens the statelessness of millions of people. The inhabitants have to prove that their families lived in the present state territory of India before 1971 and did not immigrate until after the founding of the neighboring state of Bangladesh.
Indian government sees this as an overdue move to tackle illegal immigration from the neighboring country. It has been suggested that mainly Muslims would be hit by the measure.
In late August, the government of Assam, the northern Indian state, finally published the updated register, which lacked 1.9 million names. It would also have come to the process to inconsistencies and errors. Doubt expressed among others India’s highest court.
“Human Rights Watch previously described the change in legislation as a violation of international law”
Although people were given time to prove their Indian citizenship with documents such as birth certificates. But very few are likely to be able to do so. In the worst case, they face internment or even deportation.
However, it is unlikely that Bangladesh will agree to accommodate so many people. Under the new citizenship law, Hindus and other non-Muslims, who are not in the register, but still the chance of naturalization in India. For the Muslims, however, this option is blocked.
The Muslim League of the Indian Union, urged Thursday at the Supreme Court to declare the law illegal. The text is a blatant violation of the constitutional principle that there should be no discrimination based on religion.
The human rights organization Human Rights Watch previously described the change in legislation as a violation of international law.
World News Observer