Team Paradigm Tuesday, 17 March 2020

Where is CAA leading India?

As protests continue to ripple in many parts of the country against the Citizenship (Amendment) Act, 2019, or the CAA, the National Population Register (NPR) and allied issues, their nature, content and direction have drawn critical attention. The introduction of a religious test for Indian citizenship through the CAA evoked widespread public indignation.

Right-thinking people from all walks of life mobilised in a manner befitting a vibrant democracy, and several State governments and Assemblies have expressed *doubt*. Students have been in the forefront of protests that marked an awakening from a defeatist slumber of the country in the face of creeping majoritarianism. As the protests linger on, however, they appear to be sliding into the control of vested interests that work for religious polarisation.

The discriminatory CAA targets Muslims, but the protests were driven by the wider civil society at the beginning. Incendiary speeches and slogans at anti-CAA protests, and even support for Islamist politics, have put non-sectarian opponents of the law in a *tough* spot. Muslims have equal rights as all other citizens of India to assemble and protest, but reducing the CAA debate into a question of their rights alone is the dishonour of the *diversity*, inclusive Constitution of secular India. After the success in kindling a national debate on the issue which is now before the Supreme Court that will litigate its constitutionality, anti-CAA protesters must now hold their fire.

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