There were protests by students against the amended Citizenship Act on Monday in Aligarh Muslim University, Jadavpur University, Mau in UP, Lucknow's Darul Uloom Nadwatul seminary and in Kochi in Kerala, even as uneasy calm prevailed in Assam. The situation was tense in Delhi's Jamia Millia Islamia, where violence and arson had taken place on Sunday. West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee led a huge procession against CAA and NRC in Kolkata.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi in a series of tweets appealed for 'peace, unity and brotherhood'. "It is my appeal to everyone to stay away from any sourt of rumour mongering and falsehoods. We cannot allow vested interest groups to divide us and create disturbance", he tweeted. Modi described the violent protests as "unfortunate and deeply distressing".
The question that arises is: why are there widespread protests across the country? The Prime Minister has emphatically said, "CAA does not affect any citizen of India of any religion. No Indian has anything to worry about this Act."
This amended citizenship law has nothing to do with Indian Muslims. It is only meant to clear the path of citizenship for those who are facing religious persecution in Islamic neighbouring countries. Then why these nationwide protests?
I think the major reason behind this is the sense of fear that has been driven into the minds of Indian Muslims. This fear is being created from the pulpits of some mosques, by some local activists, by some Congress leaders and majorly by social media in which fears are being raised among Muslims about the documents they will have to produce to prove their identity as Indian citizens. Muslims are being told that no documents will be sought from Hindus, Buddhists, Jains and Sikhs, and only Muslims will be targeted. This is a travesty of truth.
Despite the fact that Indian Muslims will not be required to submit documents about their domicile, Muslim men and women are asking whether they would really be asked to produce any such document in the near future? Will they lose their Indian citizenship? Where will they go?
It is this sense of fear which forces them to take part in protests that are taking place across the country. The government must now convince and reassure Muslims that there would be nothing of this sort. The government must establish proper channels to communicate with the Muslims and remove the sense of fear that is pervading their minds.
I would appeal to all Muslims to trust in Prime Minister Narendra Modi's words of assurance. There is no danger to their citizenship. They will not have to submit documents to establish their citizenship. The amended Citizenship Act is meant only for non-Muslims who are fleeing neighbouring Islamic countries due to religious persecution, nothing more and nothing less. The amended law will have no effect on Indian Muslims residing here.
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