New Indian law being reviled at home and abroad

OIC will have to play an effective role for Muslims’ rights, AJK premier’s advice needs a serious consideration

LAHORE - The second term of India’s Modi government has fully exposed the ruling BJP’s real face and its designs about Muslims.

On August 5 it annexed occupied Kashmir and imposed curfew and a number of other restrictions that continue even today. When the Muslim Ummah failed to come up with a united and strong reaction to this unconstitutional and immoral act, the BJP government felt emboldened and, last week, went for another provocative step that leaves no doubt in concluding that for India secularism means nothing but hating Muslims.

Its parliament passed a law that seeks to grant Indian nationality to Buddhists, Christians, Hindus, Jains, Parsis and Sikhs who fled Pakistan, Bangladesh and Afghanistan before 2015. The Muslims have been excluded from the list, which is being regarded as a move to marginalise Muslims.

The Indian constitution prohibits religious discrimination against its citizens, and guarantees all persons equality and equal protection of the law.

The enactment is being vehemently reviled both at home and abroad. Five opposition-ruled Indian states have refused to implement the new law, which is a matter of serious embarrassment for the BJP leadership.

In view of the implications of the new legislation and the BJP’s thinking about Muslims, the 57-state OIC should immediately hold a special session and work out its future line of action to prove itself as an effective platform for the rights of Muslims across the world. If it failed to do so, atrocities being perpetrated on Muslims in various countries would multiply in the times ahead.

As for international reaction to the new India legislation, the US Commission on International Religious Freedom has criticised the bill as going against India’s secular pluralism and the Indian constitution. It also sought American sanctions against (Amit) Shah, the minister who introduced the bill.

The New York Times called the new legislation “divisive”.

“The measure, called the Citizenship Amendment Bill, uses religion as a criterion for determining whether illegal migrants in India can be fast-tracked for citizenship. The bill favours members of all South Asia’s major religions except Islam, and leaders of India’s 200-million-strong Muslim community have called it blatant discrimination.

The Washington Post said: “India passes controversial citizenship law excluding Muslim migrants”. It said: “Lawmakers in India on Wednesday passed a fundamental change to its citizenship law to include religion as a criterion for nationality for the first time, deepening concerns that a country founded on secular ideals is becoming a Hindu state that treats Muslims as second-class citizens.”

It further said, “The new legislation creates a path to citizenship for migrants who belong to several South Asian religions but pointedly excludes Islam, the faith practised by 200 million Indian citizens.”

Bangladesh, which has very close ties with India, is also critical of the new move. In fact, the new legislation has created a diplomatic row between India and Bangladesh.

Not only two Bangladeshi ministers cancelled their scheduled visit to India, minority communities in Bangladesh such as Hindus and Buddhists have also rejected the Indian legislation and reference made in the Indian parliament about their persecution.

Bangladesh Foreign Minister Abdul Momen is reported to have termed the new Indian law contradictory to the country’s secular values. He earlier cancelled his scheduled India visit last week.

Home Minister Assaduzzaman Khan Kamal said that while adopting or amending legislation was India’s internal matter, allegations about the torturing of minorities in our country were “totally baseless and false”.

He described speeches made in the Indian parliament regarding the oppression of minorities in Bangladesh as “nonsense”.

Main opposition Bangladesh Nationalist Party’s joint secretary general Syed Moazzem Hossain Alal accused India of engineering ethnic cleansing.

“The world knows well about the deadly communal riots in India in the state of Gujarat in 2002. The current ruling Hindu nationalist BJP is an offshoot of ultra-Hindu nationalist organisation, Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh which has been responsible for anti-Muslim riots in India,” he said.

“In our country, there is no record of communal tension under state patronisation. People are peacefully living here for many generations,” he added.

He said in the northeastern state of Assam, an exercise to detect illegal immigrants have kept 1.9 million people out of the citizenship list.

Terming the religious harmony in Bangladesh far better than in India, Shafiqur Rahman, head of the Bangladesh Jamaat-e-Islami, said his country does not discriminate between majority or minority.

Pakistan’s Foreign Office spokesman Dr Faisal (now posted as country’s ambassador to Germany) condemned the Indian law. He said this act of India was driven by a toxic mix of extremist Hindutva ideology and hegemonic ambitions in the region. He noted that voices were also being raised within and outside India against the discriminatory legislation.

Protests against the amended citizenship law raged in India on Saturday. At the same time Washington, London and Paris issued travel warnings for northeast India following days of violent clashes that have left two people dead.

Several thousand protesters rallied in the capital New Delhi on Saturday evening, urging Prime Minister Narendra Modi´s government to revoke the law, some holding signs reading: “Stop Dividing India”.

“People are not gathered here as Hindus, or Muslims, people are gathered here as citizens of India. We reject this bill that has been brought by the Modi government and we want equal treatment as enshrined in our constitution,” said a protester.

The protests turned violent in the West Bengal state. Tensions also simmered in Guwahati in Assam state, the epicentre of the unrest.

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe postponed a visit to India that was due to start on Sunday.

The Amnesty International said the CAB passed by the Indian parliament legitimises discrimination on the basis of religion and stands in clear violation of both the constitution of India and international human rights law

In this situation, AJK Prime Minister Raja Farooq Haider Khan says the armed struggle in Indian occupied Kashmir must continue. He said with the current strategy of the Pakistan government, Kashmir won’t get independence even in the next 700 years. He said India considers itself the successor of British rule and its nefarious designs of expansionism are on the pattern of East India Company.

At a ceremony he said Pakistan was the biggest hurdle in the Indian “Akhund Baharat” ideology and its expansionist designs in the region. He said India, following in the footsteps of the East India Company, is conspiring for a new colonial setup.

“It is high time for a serious talk in Pakistan on Indian expansionist designs,” he added.

Political observers think that Pakistan will be in a position to resist Indian designs only if the ruling coalition and opposition parties sink their differences and join hands. Opposition activities that keep the government engaged in other activities or take focus off Kashmir would not be in the national interest. Let’s give the enemy no opportunity to celebrate our internal differences.

ePaper - Nawaiwaqt