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Adam Rizvi, June 2, 2021, Washington, D.C.: The Indian American Muslim Council (IAMC – www.iamc.com), an advocacy group dedicated to safeguarding India’s pluralist and tolerant ethos, today condemned the Indian Government’s move to press ahead with its plan for inviting applications for citizenship from non-Muslim foreigners despite there being a challenge to the law pending before the courts.
The order from India’s Ministry of Home Affairs last week directing officials in five states to accept applications for citizenship from non-Muslim migrants from the neighboring countries of Afghanistan, Bangladesh, and Pakistan violates the ethos of India’s Constitution which guarantees equality before the law regardless of religion, IAMC said.
The federal government’s order is nothing but a deceitful means to bring in from the backdoor the Citizenship (Amendment) Act (CAA), the infamous law that Parliament enacted in 2019 that convulsed Indian society and that has been challenged in India’s Supreme Court, the IAMC said.
“Instead of focusing on saving lives of all Indians from the scourge of Covid-19, the Government is busy implementing its supremacist agenda by subverting Constitutional secularism that has long guaranteed equal rights for India’s 280 million non-Hindu minorities,” said Rasheed Ahmed, Executive Director. “The Government should withdraw this order and wait for the Supreme Court of India to rule on the various legal challenges to the CAA that have been brought before it,” added Mr. Ahmed.
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The federal government’s order of May 28 is the second such decision. In 2016, the government had similarly ordered officials to accept such applications from non-Muslim migrants. With Friday’s order, 29 districts (administrative units) in nine states are processing such applications.
According to the United States Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF), the CAA, and the NRC, that will require “all residents to provide documentation of citizenship… could subject Muslims, in particular, to statelessness, deportation, and prolonged detention.”
Mr. Ahmed said the Government’s true intent in bringing the CAA, which the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights has described as “fundamentally discriminatory,”, is to combine it with the proposed National Register of Citizens (NRC) to have India’s 200 million Muslims fear for their citizenship, lest the government turn them into foreigners in their own country.
This scenario has already played out in the northeastern state of Assam, providing a “chilling example: in 2019, a statewide NRC was implemented in Assam that ultimately excluded 1.9 million residents” including, in some cases, “families who had resided in India for generations,” according to the USCIRF report released earlier this year.