Weaponizing Citizenship (CAA-NRC)

The Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA)

CAA is a new law introduced by Prime Minister Narendra Modi-led government in India that offers fast-track citizenship to persecuted minorities (Hindus, Sikhs, Zoroastrians, Jains, Buddhists) from neighboring Afghanistan, Pakistan, and Bangladesh except Muslims. These can be refugees already in India, ones seeking asylum, or those who are yet to arrive in the country.

While it is noble in the sense that it helps out persecuted communities that bear the brunt of majoritarianism in neighboring countries, but at the same time it fundamentally discriminates against Muslims. That too, when Muslim minorities like Shiites, Hazaras, Ahmadis, Ismaliis, and etc are also facing persecution.

But the real intent of CAA is not to help minorities from the neighboring countries but to target and strip Muslims in India of their rights and citizenship. CAA is just one of the laws being used by the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh’s political arm Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) in its weaponizing citizenship triangle with the other two being NRC and NPR.

National Register of Citizenship (NRC)

A parallel initiative of CAA is the National Register of Citizens (NRC), which seeks to verify whether someone is an illegal immigrant in India. While the need to curb illegal immigration is a legitimate one, the parameters to determine whether someone qualifies as a legal citizen via the National Register of Citizens (NRC) are very tenuous at best.

Anybody who does not qualify for the NRC will be expelled from the country or automatically placed into a detention center. These centers are reminiscent of concentration camps that were integral to the genocide of Jews in Nazi Germany.

In Assam, where the BJP came into power, the final NRC was published in mid-2019, in which 1.9 million people were stripped of their citizenship. Some of the people left out of register were thrown into the detention centers. One can see that these tactics are reminiscent of the anti-semitic Nuremberg Laws of 1935 when citizenship was used as a weapon against Jews, which culminated into a full-blown genocide.

National Population Register (NPR)

On July 31, 2019, the Modi regime issued a notification for the preparation of National Population Register (NPR), a listing of all persons ordinarily resident in India, whether they are citizens or not. According to Rule 4 of the Citizenship Rules 2003, the first step of NRC is to do house-to-house collection of information in every locality to prepare a population register. All local registers will be combined to form a Sub-District, then-District, then State, and then National Population Register (NPR). So, NPR is the first step towards NRC. When taken together, the CAA-NRC and NPR is a lethal combination and aimed at disenfranchising Indian Muslims. Since NPR will enumerate and compile the data of every single person residing in India, it will be easier for the government to undertake the NRC process by utilizing the NPR data and compile a list of doubtful citizens, who can then be served notice to prove their citizenship. While non-Muslims can take the route of CAA to regain their citizenship status, it would be only Muslims who will end up in detention centers and ultimately thrown out of the country.