If you’re on the fence about protesting or confused about what’s happening in general, let’s take a moment to step back and evaluate—because we need to talk.
Remember when ‘Ghar Wapasi’ was a thing in 2015? The government invalidated other religious beliefs implying that Hinduism was the original religion of the Indian Peoples and returning to its folds was their only choice. We all laughed, and the frenzy died down because BJP was still in year one, and we still had something of a conscience.
Then came ‘Love Jihad’ or the idea that Hindu women have no autonomy, and not only get brainwashed by their Muslim partners to become a ‘Jihadi’ but also use their wombs to propagate Jihad by birthing Muslim babies. Let’s not get started on how sexist that belief system is and move on to why this is relevant today.
The NRC or National Register of Citizens was put in place in Assam to track ‘illegal immigrants,’ but under the current regime coupled with the CAB or Citizenship Amendment Bill, it works to produce a monstrosity that plays out like this:
1. Under the NRC, any immigrant who cannot prove their citizenship through proper documentation will be deported and declared illegal.
2. BUT through the CAB, they can remain in India provided they have lived here for >6 years and are Hindu, Christian, Jain, Parsi, Sikh or Buddhist and migrated to India from Pakistan, Bangladesh and Afghanistan.
Guess who is being left out?
The immigrant Muslims (left out of NRC) will then get sent to detention camps being built in pockets around the country and rendered stateless, since they, by virtue of this bill, neither belong in India nor the country they fled from. But refugees fleeing religious persecution only make up a small population of the Muslims who’re going to be affected.
Under this law, any Muslim, no matter how long they’ve lived in India, will have to prove ancestry with adequate documentation, some of which might not exist due to various circumstances, including, but not limited to, the lack of monetary resources, destruction by natural calamities and the simple fact that India has not always been about paperwork. A huge chunk of its population has always been excluded from ‘organised’ society.
There are many versions of India within these borders and not all of them follow/can follow the same set of practices, especially not marginalised communities, nomadic communities and communities who’ve been at the receiving end of systemic violence and pathological hatred.
The poorest of the poor, as always—making them vulnerable to exploitation in the name of small ‘kindnesses’ their ‘owners’ will now do them. But the question of 2019 is that India’s Islamophobia is not one of class because it has constructed the identity of the Indian Muslim as uniform. Muslims are seen as one homogeneous category who should ‘go back’ to the lands they came from. But what about the Ahmadiyyas and other persecuted sects?
If your question is ‘who are they?’ You, too, believe that the Muslim world is homogeneous, and all ‘Muslim countries’ are safe havens for all the Muslims. It is the same logic used while labelling all Muslims as terrorists. As for Indian Muslims, they had the chance to ‘return to the religion’ they came from and didn’t in 2015, so now they pay.
This is the problem. The othering. The bigotry, and the spite that until a few years ago, did not look like this. It’s easy to be Islamophobic when the whole world is already at it, India. Grow some courage even if they call you anti-national for it. Standing up for your people is not anti-national.
Your borders aren’t what you’re fighting for, your people are. And Muslims count among them.