Will The Govt’s Next Step Be To Make All Indians Prove Their Citizenship?

As a Goan, the Citizenship Amendment Bill (CAB) bill may not be an obvious threat to me or the people in my state, and looking around, nobody seems to be expressing their concern, unlike in Assam, and other states with similar demographics.

 

Amit Shah in Parliament introducing the Citizenship Amendment Bill 2019
Amit Shah in Parliament introducing the Citizenship Amendment Bill 2019. Picture Courtesy: Business Today

But here is the thing, the CAB is not meant for future refugees. It’s meant for all those who were born and are living in India; those that the rulers want to kick out of the country. Remember Amit Shah’s statement that the NRC exercise (which was done in Assam) will be done for the whole country?

The next step is probably to make a national citizens register for the whole country, by making people produce documents, to prove they are citizens of India.

So, instead of focusing the next four years on getting India’s economy out of the sewage of deMo and GST fallout, or on climate change; the government will fulfil its promise of a Hindu Rashtra, by filtering out all those Muslims, whose ancestors were illiterate or failed to make or keep the documents needed, to prove their citizenship. All other such persons, from other religions, get automatic immunity. Atleast that’s the law today.

So, are Muslims the only victims of the bill? Hell no. The difficult hurdle was getting the bill passed. Now that it has, Amit Shah is free to bring amendments to remove any other community they see as a threat. He may shout ‘Khalistan terrorists’ and remove the Sikh community from the act. He could shout ‘missionaries and conversion’,  and remove Christians from the Act.

As a selfish Goan, my argument is that fact my ancestors never chose to be citizens of India. It was imposed on them and hence we had to accept it. Isn’t it ironic that we were forcibly given citizenship and now we may be expected to prove it?.

I’m lucky for two reasons. First, as a Catholic, I have records of more than 6 generations back. Not so lucky are other minorities in Goa, who were here since the times of Adil Shah.

Second, thanks to these records, I can choose the citizenship of a country that has not yet descended into fascism. But abandoning this country is not an option. And neither is keeping quite.

Saying we are heading for genocide may sound like an exaggeration but let’s see the steps and where we have reached:

1. Classification: The “us vs. them” mentality is everywhere. Conservatives vs. liberals; evangelicals vs. secularists; rural vs urban; whites vs. African-Americans, Hispanics; Native Americans; Asian Americans, etc. Conclusion? Such classification occurs in the USA and is increasing with the Trump Administration.

2. Symbolisation: Certain groups–especially African-Americans, Native Americans and Hispanics—are forced to identify themselves with papers to document residency, with identification to vote and get a proper ID, etc. Conclusion? Such symbolisation occurs in the USA and is increasing with the Trump Administration.

Students in Assam protest against the Citizenship Amendment BIll.

3. Discrimination: Discrimination against certain groups is rampant—especially of the above-mentioned ones, plus the LGBTQ community. Conclusion? Such discrimination occurs in the USA and is increasing with the Trump Administration.

4. Dehumanisation: This occurs regarding the above groups. Hate propaganda and hate speech are ubiquitous in the media consumed by millions. Conclusion? Such dehumanisation occurs in the USA and is increasing with the Trump Administration.

5. Organisation: State-backed police brutality, and an increasingly biased Department of Justice, especially against the above groups, is well-known in the USA. Militias motivated by hate are on the rise. Conclusion? Such organisation occurs in the USA and is increasing with the Trump Administration.

6. Polarisation – Right-wing media broadcasts anger, outrage, and hate.

7. Preparation: Official action to remove/relocate people. ***We (India) are here***

Kashmir’s special status removal and Assam’s NRC were just trailers. Now the real movie begins.

8. Persecution: Arrests, political assassinations, government take over of property, segregation into ghettos.

9. Extermination: This stage has not been reached. Extermination need not be in a gas chamber or by firing squad. Stagged riots, forced exodus, like what Myanmar did to Rohingyas, is also a death sentence; especially that of future generations of target communities.

10. Denial: This stage has not yet been reached but we sure are experts at denial.

It doesn’t matter which community you belong to, even if you belong to the minority community,  sooner or later they will come for you. You may be shot, raped, burnt, killed or worse, in order to anger your community and trigger a riot against the “unwanted” community.

If you are unlucky, you will live long enough to see your community be targeted sometime in the future, while you live with the guilt of keeping silent; that’s of course if climate change doesn’t kill your children, spouse or you first, via some deadly cyclone, new /incurable form of cancer, or deadly virus, or good old fashioned stroke or heart attack.

If you want to do something, send this to your elected representatives and tell them to worry about climate change, instead of allowing the country to slip into fascism; or tell them to at least start a scheme for Goans to subsidise Portuguese passport application fees.

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