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Thousands of Indians take to streets to protest Nazi-era citizenship law despite ban

Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Home Minister Amit Shah have come under severe backlash for introducing two discriminatory bills into legislation.

Thousands of Indians take to streets to protest Nazi-era citizenship law despite ban
Image Source: Sethuraman S

The Holocaust may have taken place decades ago, but it appears that Nazism is back in fashion. Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, the Minister of Home Affairs Amit Shah, and their ruling right-wing party, the Bhartiya Janata Party (BJP), have recently come under fire for introducing the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) and National Register of Citizens (NRC). Both pieces of legislation have been regarded as draconian artifacts that have the potential of propagating state-sanctioned genocide. In conjunction with each other, the CAA and NRC will leave millions of Muslims, a religious minority in the South Asian country, landless or in detention camps without legal recourse. Despite immense backlash from legal experts and academics, lawmakers in both the upper and lower houses of the Indian Parliament voted the bills into law. Now, thousands of Indians have taken to the streets in order to protest the archaic laws despite the imposition of Section 144 of India's Criminal Procedure Code of 1973 which authorizes the local government of any state or territory to issue an order to prohibit the assembly of four or more people in an area.


Impassioned protests erupted in several major Indian cities, including Delhi (the country's capital), Mumbai, Kolkata, Bangalore, Hyderabad, and Chennai, among others. Students, educators, academics, professionals, and daily wage workers gathered at key locations in these cities to let the government know that their dictatorial rule would no longer be tolerated, especially if they came for the country's minorities. Because of the imposition of Section 144, several protestors were apprehended and detained. In some cases, police officials were recorded utilizing violence and brutality in order to keep those peacefully dissenting "in line."


As it usually goes, police officers and governments blamed the violence on the protestors themselves, though this was not the case. Protests remained peaceful until police officials began using water cannons and tear gas. Meanwhile, Home Minister Shah has attempted to assuage angered protestors. He stated that Muslims in India with Indian citizenship had absolutely "nothing to worry about." In addition to this, Prime Minister Modi suggested that the anti-CAA protests were inspired by opposing parties Congress, Aam Aadmi Party (AAP), and other left-wing parties. He claimed that these left-leaning parties were spreading "false propaganda" and engaging in "guerilla politics."


However, it is not just those within the country who have taken to the streets. Indians living abroad, too, have begun organizing or participating in protests. Moreover, they have called on the international community to take action. At present, it is unclear what will come out of these protests. Shah, undeterred by the demonstrations, claimed, "There is no chance of going back on this law... We will not compromise on CAA." Nonetheless, several petitions have been filed with the country's Supreme Court and High Court against the pieces of legislation. With enough pressure from internal civil unrest and international persuasion, India may narrowly escape the most violent targeted genocide the world has seen since the Holocaust.


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