Demos against CAA gaining intensity across India

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Shafaqna Pakistan:The provisions of the contentious Citizenship (Amendment) Act (CAA) have come into effect from today, according to a notification issued by the Indian Ministry of Home Affairs late on Friday night, Indian media outlet The Wire reported on Saturday.

The notification comes amid widespread protests across the country which have claimed dozens of lives as law enforcement authorities have on many instances used disproportionate force to suppress dissent.

Protesters from all walks of life, including students and Bollywood celebrities contend that the CAA — which grants citizenship to non-Muslims, who migrated to India from neighbouring countries — is discriminatory towards Muslims and is against India’s secular foundations. Several critics have even termed the move unconstitutional.

The passage of the CAA follows the first National Register of Citizens (NRC), published in August 2019, which left almost two million people — mostly Muslims — stateless. Most of those who were left out of the register had migrated from then East Pakistan in 1971.

CAA is in line with the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party’s (BJP) election promise to weed out “foreign infiltrators”. Modi’s right-hand man and Home Minister Amit Shah, while campaigning for the 2019 elections, had vowed to expel “termites” from the country.

The Act was tabled in the Indian parliament by Home Minister Shah last month and was passed with a 125-105 majority on December 11. At the time, Modi had said it was a “landmark day for India and our nation’s ethos of compassion and brotherhood”.

However, the protests against CAA, which have been gaining intensity for over a month, seemed to have taken the BJP by surprise and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi has since insisted that Indian citizens had nothing to worry about.

Meanwhile, thousands of angry protesters took to the streets to tell India’s leader he was unwelcome in Kolkata on Saturday, in the latest rally against a citizenship law that critics say discriminates against Muslims.

Police said nearly 30,000 protesters took to the streets of Kolkata to denounce Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visit, with many linking hands to form human chains that spanned miles through the streets of the eastern megacity. “What we are fighting for is the future of India,” Surita Roy, a woman who joined the rally, said.

A crowd mobbed the city’s airport and chanted “We are against fascism” as the Indian leader’s plane touched down before he transferred to a military helicopter that carried him to the house of West Bengal state leader Mamata Banerjee — a vocal critic of Modi’s ruling Hindu nationalist government.

Police stopped protesters from following Modi to the chief minister’s house, but Banerjee told journalists after their meeting that she had asked him to repeal the law “for the larger interests of the country” and then joined the street protests herself.

Critics say the law is a precursor to a national register of citizens that many among India’s 200 million Muslims — around 15 per cent of the country’s population — fear will leave them stateless. Many poor Indians do not have documents to prove their nationality.

Modi has in turn accused his political opponents of “misleading” and “inciting” people against his Hindu nationalist government.

His party has launched a door-to-door campaign in a bid to dispel “misinformation” about the law, which they insist is not discriminatory.

But hundreds of thousands of protesters have continued to meet public across the country and demand a rollback of the law.

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