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December 13, 2019

Open hatred


December 13, 2019

The new amendment in the Indian Citizenship Act law approved by the Lok Sabha has already set off waves of rioting in Assam. The protesters in Assam are concerned that their unique, age-old culture will be damaged by immigrants coming in from neighbouring countries – no matter what religion they belong to. Prime Minister Modi’s assurance that this would not happen has been rejected by the people of Assam and also neighbouring territories. The amendment brought in essentially turns India into a state with frightening reminders of what life in Nazi Germany must have been like. This is what ‘Shining India’ has turned into. It is quite obvious to even a casual onlooker that the law is biased and pushes forward the undisguised bigotry and discrimination that has been stalking India since the Modi government was first elected to power in 2014. The attacks on Muslims have increased dramatically since then, Kashmiris are being severely penalized and attempts made to dilute their identity as a predominantly Muslim state and it is obvious that ‘secular India’ no longer exists.

Will the new India be a permanent feature on the globe of the world or will this be only a short-lived episode in its history? It is difficult to say, although the riots starting up indicate the new law is certainly not approved of by all. Leading scholars and analysts have also spoken up against it. We will need to see what happens next and if there is to be a larger outcry in India over the demolition of the standards espoused by politicians and leaders like Gandhi and Nehru. Does Modi today stand taller than them in this new India?

There are indications that this may indeed be the case. The courts in India have acquitted Narendra Modi of playing any part in the massacre in Gujarat which took place in 2002 leading to the death of hundreds of people almost all of them Muslims. The pogrom is virtually unparalleled in Indian history as are the laws now coming in one after the other. Kashmir has been stripped of its autonomy and special status; the new Citizenship Act allows anyone except Muslims entering India from neighbouring countries to gain citizenship on a fast-track basis. This can only further divide India and lead to even more tensions. Can India even survive this? The question is an open one.

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