‘The fear of the implementation of CAA and NRC has somewhat increased, especially among Muslims’

Advocate Nadeem Siddiqui offering free consultation to people coming to him for help in his Nagpada office in Mumbai. | Photo Credit: Special Arrangement


At 10.15 in the night during Ramzan, the roads leading to Nagpada junction in Mumbai Central are bustling with actvity. But in one of the bylanes, less than five minutes on foot from the junction, 43-year-old advocate Nadeem Siddiqui is back to work in his office after the evening prayers and iftar, helping people with free legal advice to ensure that their identity documents are free from discrepancies. Students who wish to avail scholarships for higher studies abroad also come to him for help.

There are people waiting in line outside his office, which has a seating arrangement for up to four persons to be aided at a time. Even during Ramzan, Mr. Siddiqui, aided by four volunteers, was available from 2 p.m. to 5 p.m. and again from 10 p.m. until midnight every Monday to Saturday. Fifty-two-year-old Mohammad Asif, who works in Mumbai Central but resides in Mira Road which is 40 km from Nagpada, has come to seek advice on how to get a few mistakes corrected in his documents as he feels that the National Register of Citizens (NRC) will soon be implemented across the country, especially after the notification of the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) rules last month. The current NRC is a list of people who have been able to prove that they were in Assam before the midnight of March 24, 1971, the eve of the war in which Bangladesh won independence from Pakistan.

Name game

The final draft of NRC excluded 19.06 lakh people of the 3.3 crore people who had applied for inclusion in Assam. While the exercise was done to document the legal citizens of India so that the illegal immigrants can be identified and deported, critics have held their opinion that the government could use the list to deprive some Muslims, who could be marked as doubtful citizens, since CAA paves the way for granting citizenship to undocumented non-Muslim migrants from Pakistan, Bangladesh and Afghanistan who entered India before December 31, 2014.

This story was originally published in thehindu.com. Read the full story here.