Are Indians discriminated against?

Qantara.de - Dialogue with the Islamic World

Muslims as second class citizens? The Indian upper house passed a law in early December allowing hundreds of thousands of immigrants to become citizens - only Muslims are excluded. Critics accuse Prime Minister Narendra Modi's Hindu nationalist party BJP of discriminating against the 200 million Muslims in the country.

No connection: Due to ongoing protests against the law, the Indian government had shut down the internet in various parts of the country; however, the security situation has continued to worsen since then. The northern state of Uttar Pradesh is particularly affected. The government fears a new wave of protests against changes to citizenship law that went into effect on December 11th.

In terms of the constitution? With the new law, Hindus, Sikhs, Jainists, Christians and Parsees from the predominantly Muslim neighboring states of Pakistan, Bangladesh and Afghanistan can more easily obtain Indian citizenship. Critics fear that Muslims will be discriminated against because of their religion and that the change is incompatible with the country's secular constitution.

A civil register not for everyone: The Indian government is also preparing a National Citizens Register (NRC). Its purpose is to identify illegal immigrants who will then be expelled. This could drive many millions of residents into statelessness, so the concern of critics. A similar law in the state of Assam has already excluded two million citizens.

Intellectual opposition: Several liberal intellectuals, such as the world-famous writer Arundhati Roy, have harshly criticized the government for the law and plans of the civil register. Conservative politicians such as former Minister of Economic Affairs Subramanian Swamy are calling for Roy to be arrested. He accuses her of sedition.

Students Against the New Law: Students from various universities across the country take to the streets to protest the law. Some student organizations are at the forefront of this. They use social media and graffiti (picture) for their mobilization campaigns.

Rigorous security forces: Indian authorities dispatched thousands of riot police to quell the protests. At least 25 people have been killed in the past two weeks. The Indian army chief has sharply criticized the students.

Hindu nationalists remain tough: Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) have shown no concession. They say the demonstrators do not understand the actual content of the law and are being stirred up by the opposition Congress Party.

Supporters: Rashitrya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) parade in Hyderabad to support the new law. The RSS is considered the parent organization of the BJP. It is a right-wing, Hindu nationalist, paramilitary organization.