Chandigarh, December 19
Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Home Minister Amit Shah have often called for a “Congress-mukt Bharat”, an India free of the Congress. Moving towards this goal, they have reduced the party to historic lows in two consecutive Lok Sabha elections. Protests against the Citizenship Amendment Act exploded organically around the country, both Shah and Modi seemed keen to pin all the blame on the Congress.
“One hundred per cent Congress is behind these protests,” said Shah on Tuesday. Modi said, “The Congress is spreading lies, creating an atmosphere of fear for Muslims over the Citizenship Act.”
Taken at face value, their comments are curious because almost nobody would credit the Congress with machinery to be able to coordinate protests around India against the controversial Act.
The law makes it easier for non-Muslims from Pakistan, Bangladesh and Afghanistan to become Indian citizens even if they are illegal immigrants. But because it adds a religious criteria to the citizenship law, there have been fears that it will be used to harass Indian Muslims, especially if combined with an all-India National Register of Citizens.
After the law’s passage in Parliament last week, protests erupted around the country. Beginning in the North East, where it is feared that the law will lead to large-scale demographic changes, the agitations spread to college campuses around the country, leading in some cases to violence because of heavy-handed police responses.