Anti CAA Agitation is widespread across the country since last few days. Recently Indian Government passed an Act title CAA (Citizen Amendment Act), 2019) on 13th December, 2019 which provoked huge anger across the country. Moreover, new amended Law has inserted following provison in Citizenship Act, 1955, in section 2, in sub section (1), in clause (b)-
“Provided that any person belonging to Hindu, Sikh, Buddhist, Jain, Parsi or Christian community from Afghanistan, Bangladesh or Pakistan, who entered into India on or before the 31st day of December, 2014 and who has been exempted by the Central Government by or under clause (c) of sub-section (2) of section 3 of the Passport (Entry into India) Act, 1920 or from the application of the provisions of the Foreigners Act, 1946 or any rule or order made there under, shall not be treated as illegal migrant for the purposes of this Act;”.
Why it was seen as Contestable issue
This proviso has fired to all section, they are questioning, why have only Muslims been left out? Why only three countries came under citizenship umbrella? Common Indians saw it as an attack on the basic preamble of the constitution of India that gives right to equality before law to all citizens of India. It was seen as first step for striping Muslims from equal citizenship rights. For people it was seen as an attack on secularism of Indian Constitution. For law maker since Muslims of these countries does not belong to minorities and other mentioned group who may have faced religious persecution needed to be protected. According to amended Law, these aforementioned minorities of specified three countries, they not only have been given relaxation till December, 31st 2014, also, they have been given relaxation in citizenship rights through naturalization from eleven years to five years. Giving shelter to our neighbour is not a bad idea but the whole idea of singling out Muslims from this Act is main bone of contention which breach the idea of equality before law.
The question rises who Constitute Minority in South Asia, since only selected religious groups has been placed under this umbrella which raises debate about other minorities in South Asia. there are sectarian and ethnic minorities in Pakistan and Afghanistan who too have been persecuted despite the fact that they are Muslims, there has been a very strong Muhajir movement, shia and Ahmadia minorities in Pakistan, there is strong demand of Tamil minorities from Sri Lanka, Rohingya Muslims from Burma. Indeed, it opens all fronts of persecution of minorities.
Why Muslims disturbed
It has been seen as a kind of attempt to start detaining Muslims in detention centre on the name of technicalities of papers. Since a large chunk of Muslim population neither holds land ownership nor any proper registered home which can provide atleast their registered residential proof. They may have to prove their forefather’s belongingness with this country that apprehension made them anger, why all the time we, as Indian Muslim have to prove that we belongs to this country. Indeed, Muslims are more afraid of NRC which is yet to come. Moreover, it was not Babri Masjid and it was not their concern for shariat, it was their voice for sake of constitutional rights. More importantly this time their voice has been echoed, their presence has been noticed.
Indian Muslims: A brief review of their agitation
Indian Muslim constitute second largest majority of Indian population after Hindu. They share a sizeable population, as per estimation they constitute almost 30 crores of whole population. They constitute second largest Muslim population of world’s Muslim population after Indonesia.
First time in Indian history after Independence, any legal amendment had gathered people of India across all religion. Before this, it was only 1986, when Muslims agitated against any legislative intervention in Shah Bano case but it did not gain support from all section even from Muslim Intelligentsia along with women’s group, were vehemently against Muslim Fundamentalism. I personally feel it is one of the biggest mistakes what Muslims did in history of Indian politics from Muslim perspective as it opened many fronts not only against Indian Muslims but also for secular parties whoever supported that.
It gave a long-lasting tool to right wings to rationalise their idea of civilization to these so called inherent uncivilised and barbaric people. likewise, orientalist did in 19th century, Muslims are inherent opposed to change. Thus, it was again, the same allegation and idea how British did to justify their rule in India.
This superficially projected idea of backwardness of Muslims had pushed Muslims to claim their cultural identity. This idea of inherent irrationality of Indian Muslims is being projected in last two-three decades more than earlier. For which, many a times Muslim themselves seemed responsible by supporting many orthodox forces within community. Interestingly Muslim never tried to connect their identity with Islamic country before 19th century. Even in Mughal period, when Mughal emperors denounced all religious connection with Khilafat by making themselves secular sovereign state.
But this CAB/CAA Movement has changed whole idea of religious identity, since this time Muslims are not for protecting cultural identity, not for claiming shariat court, not for any religious rights and more importantly not calling for sake of Muslim brotherhood. Instead, this time Muslims raised their voice for equal rights what they saw it as violation of fundamental right, article 14, right to equality seemed under threat.
Thus, a group of students from Jamia Millia Islamia has started their concern on such important issue. They seemed to be corner out when movement started by a bunch of students then teachers too joined them in heart of National Capital, it spread across the country, around the 22 Universities of India expressed their solidarity, even many renowned overseas University demonstrated their solidarity with students of India. Slogan is being chanted, we love India: Don’t divide us. Today I saw group of 8-9 girls between age group of 7-13, returning back from Government School chanting slogan, ‘step out from homes if not now then never,’ Support came from all corners to Jamia Students, ‘we are with jamia’.
I cannot forget that chilling night of December, 15th when Police had entered in University campus of Jamia Millia Islamia, although I was not in the Library but I can hear sound of firing from very close of my University Residents, bursting sound of tear gases, I had received many panic calls from students throughout night, someone is stuck in Library, someone is hiding at top of the Engineering faculty and crying for help, even few are texting messages from Police station, Girls are crying in Library, trying to hide themselves in Toilets. No need to mention what kind of mental and Physical Trauma they have to face whole night. However, Delhi Police have different argument of outsider’s intrusion to justify their raid. It was a sleepless night for whole country, I have received many calls from other University in mid night. Afcourse there was lot of rumours and fake news through social media that few dead bodies are lying behind the library, a picture was circulated that this boy was shot dead. Social Media was filled with police atrocities with many videos and photographs was circulated within a minute throughout country that provoked consciousness of whole country that it’s time to wake up.
Brief account of Jamia as an Ideology:
Beside this horrible narration, one symbolic place which was brutally attacked was Library (a temple for academician) of the University which outraged anger of common people, Girls has to share many horrible stories, and it happened in Jamia, a university which foundation is laid for Nationalist cause. At the time when Mahatma Gandhi has said about it, ‘a thirsty child of Indian National Struggle’ and that child who got mature and was going to celebrate its 100 years journey has been attacked brutally. The idea of Jamia was to introduce a Gandhian concept of Vardha education, an idea of new pedagogy which suited to our vernacular culture not to imitate western culture. And for that basic idea Jamia has to sacrifice many years in obtaing rcognition to its Degree too.
Onslaught of Library, people of Jamia maintained their trust in non violence resistance, and in overnight Gate No 7 became a symbolic place of showing their peaceful resistance for surrounding people which became a headache for University Administration too how to handle with these protesters who are not associated with Jamia. Indeed, Jamia can not help themselves as it shared its wall with local community and this CAA issue is not concerned with Jamia alone instead a community issue. For local, there are many expectations, perhaps they are searching a kind of leadership from University campus, and perhaps they are coming to connect their mobilization with national interest as Jamia may provide a kind of space for discourse among intelligentsia.
Indian Muslim: Need of the Hour
DoesIndian Muslims need this revolution urgently? Indeed, for me its like a breaking the ice of almost 150 years of coldness what between two major communities of India had developed aftermath of 1857, they were made confronting with each others on many issue since British realised that these two community should never come close to each other which have power to root out any force. They did their best to divide and rule that resulted into two nation theory and very interesting our politician had maintained that British legacy.
British, had introduced a kind of social engineering through their decennial census report when first demographic Report (1881) as well as introducing municipal election, this has officially revealed Muslims number and made them realise their political future is in danger. As a result, a systematic attempt was made to create havoc between majority and minority by generalising rapid growth rate among Muslims in all census report. Muslim women’s body became a site of national discourse till this date, these erroneous report caused a deep rooted communal hatered between two communities of India. Interestingly these discourse are still relevant while a parallel debate is going on Population Bill by targeting Muslim women fertility rate. While the fact is Muslim fertility rate is more or less same as in other community. These state sponsored colonial hatred had created a huge gap among Hindu and Muslim. As a result Muslim has evolved keeping inside a sense of minoritism among them. They started talking about their specific identity, their specific concern and vice versa happen among Hindus too.
They too, have been taught about a perceived persecution in hands of Muslim rulers during Delhi Saltanat/Mughal period hence it necessitate urgency of cultural revivalism, this revivalism got blur with nationalist movement that made Muslims more apprehensive that their identity is in danger. Muslims found themselves alienated hence they too started emphasising their Islamic identity of umma. Beside these differences both had priorities freedom from British.
However, after 1947 this antagonism emerged very clear despite the fact almost 99% of Indian Muslims (according to 1951 Census Report of Uttar Pradesh less than one percent Muslim migrated to Pakistan) have rejected Islamic Pakistan. In one of my forthcoming work, it came that common Indian Muslims had strongly opposed idea of partition.
Hence their anger burst out how their nationality is in danger. This time they felt it is the issue of their existence and increasing impact of social media made their voice to be heard not for that they are Muslims and their rights has been violated but for many reasons resentment was taking place among common people of India and it did work like cartridge of animal fat how sepoy mutiny of 1857 had started eventually that became first national revolution. Hence this peaceful Rose revolution matters to Muslims.
*Firdous Azmat Siddiqui, Associate Professor, Sarojini Naidu Center for Women’s Studies, Jamia Millia Islamia