I Protest –
It was December 15th, 2019, when I tried to call my parents in Aligarh, India, home to India’s 100-year old Aligarh Muslim University (AMU). After several attempts, the call went through and my dad picked up the phone. I asked how he was and whether his creatinine test was done, and then asked about his opinion on the new Indian citizenship amendment act (CAA), passed few days earlier. His response was guarded. Few hours later WhatsApp messages and videos of brutal crackdown on student protests against CAA at AMU, started pouring-in. I immediately called my dad who lives next to the AMU campus. I could sense his anxiety from his measured responses. News of brutal crackdown on students of Jamia Millia Islamia University also became viral. For the next few days, there was internet shut down, and complete communication blockade. I like many of my friends had no communication with our families in Aligarh and Jamia. Never had I imagined that communication blockade, internet shutdown and social media surveillance would ever hold ground in world’s largest democracy.
On December 11th, 2019, CAA was passed in India. According to this law, the Indian citizenship will be provided to Hindu, Sikh, Buddhist, Jain, Parsi and Christian minorities from the neighboring Muslim majority countries of Pakistan, Bangladesh and Afghanistan. Obviously, this law violates the secular principles outlined in article 14 of the Indian constitution, which prohibits using faith as a condition of citizenship. So why has the Indian government taken such a huge risk? The answer is simple. The law is a strategy to disenfranchise Muslims and convert India into a complete Hindu Nation, a manifesto of the ruling Bhartiya Janata Party. Some even predict an Indian holocaust in the making. Remember the Nuremberg laws of 1935 according to which people of German descent alone were eligible to be German citizens. What happened next is history.
Indian government’s claim is that CAA fulfills the Indian tradition of compassion, and inclusion. Another sell for this act is that this is a process to identify approximately 30 million illegal immigrants mostly from Bangladesh. Listen to this, the government claims to not only accept new refugees i.e persecuted Hindus from neighboring countries but also will continue to hold, feed and care for 30 million illegal immigrants in detention camps. Some experts indicate that the cost of creation and yearly expenditure to sustain such camps, exceeds billions of dollars. As a reminder, India, is going through a massive growth rate decline, with the lowest employment rate recorded in the last 45 years. The Indian youth are not ready to accept Modi’s bluff. His fascist agenda is an insult to their intellect, and a blow to their secular identity. In fact, all too silly for educated consumption. The student-initiated protests in India have evolved into a revolution. Of course none of this goes well with the fascists, as dissent and dialogue, is a threat to their evil agenda. The government is dismissing this movement as anti-national. Police is openly attacking, arresting and torturing Muslims while in custody, also vandalizing and looting Muslim property. A complete failure of law and order machinery especially in the state of Uttar Pradesh (UP), a state whose Chief Minister (CM) is a militant disguised as a monk.
This present Indian government comprising largely of convicted murderers, rapists, and exonerated criminals have fed so much hatred into the country that people will accept all forms of baloney as long as their “Dear Leader” speaks anti-Muslim language. PM Modi, UP CM Yogi, and Home Minister Amit Shah’s inflammatory speeches branding India’s Muslims as a “virus’, “termite” and “terrorist” is clearly a genocidal language and fuels hate rhetoric. On the bright side, it is heartwarming to see that Indians have trashed the pile of hate heaped-up by PM Modi and his team. In doing so the common Indian has stepped-up to uphold Gandhian principles. In solidarity of the student movement, I also participated in the protest at the Indian consulate at Houston on December 20th, 2019. What happened there was an eye opener. There were a group of men within the Houston consulate premises who clearly were friends of the consulate if not part of the consulate, started hurling insults and inciting violence with “Kill them [Muslims] All [Goli Maro Salon Ko]” and other much more obnoxious slogans. To them, being Indian is being Hindu. I dismiss this idea. I stand for the secular India that Gandhi aspired for and that is why I protest.
DR. SAMINA SALIM