The BJP government passed this Act not to help persecuted minorities, but to reassure its base that Muslims would never have the same rights as Hindus under its rule.

By Apoorvanand

India moved a step closer to formalising itself as a majoritarian country with the announcement of the rules to operationalise the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA), which was passed back in 2019 with much controversy. This is yet another move by the Indian government led by the Hindu-supremacist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) to stir the simmering communal cauldron.

The move has reignited the debate about the objective of the Act itself. Passed in 2019, the CAA was criticised by jurists and others for being discriminatory against certain communities, mainly Muslims. The Act claims to provide a faster pathway to Indian citizenship for Hindus, Sikhs, Christians, Jains, Buddhists and other minorities who have come to India illegally from Pakistan, Bangladesh, and Afghanistan. The absence of Muslims in this list has been causing outrage and communal tensions since the conception of the Act. In a clear violation of the Indian Constitution, which demands all people to be treated equally under the law, the CAA changes the very concept of Indian citizenship and makes it faith-based. It opens a new path to Indian citizenship for all, except Muslims.

The CAA is a reiteration of the ideology of the BJP, which holds that Muslims do not belong to India in the same way that Hindus do. The government claims that with this amendment it is merely seeking to help those who had to leave these three countries because of religious persecution. Muslims are not in the list, as it is assumed that Muslims cannot be religiously persecuted in Muslim-majority countries. Critics point out, however, that Muslim communities like Hazaras and Ahmadis, who undisputedly face religious persecution in their homelands, would not have been left out, if the aim was to help victims of religious persecution in these countries.

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