Resisting nationwide protests, the Indian government rolled out a controversial amendment to a citizenship law across the country.
The Indian Home Ministry has issued a gazette notification, signed by President Ram Nath Kovind, saying that the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) comes into effect starting Friday night. Disheartened people, who had expected a dialogue from the government before the legislation was implemented, have expressed deep frustration calling the announcement pure “bullying”.
“This government will do dialogue if they know how to talk…This is a dumb government. Their CAA is like demonetisation. No plan. No vision. Just bullying", noted filmmaker Anurag Kashyap said.
The announcement came as surprise for many especially because the Supreme Court of India has scheduled to hear 59 petitions about the CAA's constitutional validity on 22 January. The Indian Parliament passed the amendment to the citizenship law in December 2019.
“Clearly, the government doesn't give two f**ks about the people's protests. So, what happens now?” writer and storyteller Nikhil Taneja said. “They (the government) didn't once hear the protesters out".
CAA comes into force from 10th January, 2020.— Zainab Sikander (@zainabsikander) January 11, 2020
You're expecting GOI to take it back ?
Just because you're braving the cold, the water cannons, the lathi charge, the FIRs, the hate and bigotry .. ? pic.twitter.com/IU5HHkmKXP
Firebrand youth leader and MP for Bengaluru South Tejasvi Surya outlined the government's approach saying “Once we take a step forward, we don’t retreat”.
Nevertheless, one influential leader from the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), Ram Madhav, has tried to soothe the anger of the protesters.
“One confusion about the law stems probably from people seeing it as an Act. It is just an amendment to the existing Citizenship Act 1955. D Act per se grants citizenship to ALL who fulfill certain criteria. CAA amendment is an addition that allows fast tracking of d process for some", Ram Madhav, the General Secretary of BJP said on Saturday.
Protesters are claiming that the Modi administration made the amendment to the 1955 citizenship law to divide the country along religious lines as the CAA mandates the granting of citizenship to non-Muslim immigrants who fled persecution from Afghanistan, Pakistan, and Bangladesh. It allows Hindus, Sikhs, Parsis, Christians, Buddhists, and Jains to be granted Indian citizenship if they arrived in India on or before December 2014.
During the anti-CAA protests, thousands of protesters were arrested for instigating violence from states like Uttar Pradesh, Karnataka, Tamil Nadu, Assam, and Gujarat. According to India’s Home Ministry, some 22 people lost their lives and 288 police personnel were injured.