How Modi-Shah’s CAA is painfully oblivious to the plight of Dalit Muslims

CAA, Citizenship Amendment Act, NRC, NPR
Protests across India have invoked the so-called secular feelings among the common people. However, the Hindu versus Muslim trajectory is once again invisibilising Dalits, the most marginalised sections from both the religions | Illustration - Prathap Ravishankar

Protests against the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) and the proposed nationwide National Register of Citizens (NRC), which began in December of the year gone by, have now taken a pan-India shape, bringing droves of people to the streets.

Although the protesters have raised different concerns and demands, the exclusion of Muslims from the CAA has been a common worry among them, specifically in ‘mainland’ India. The CAA ensures citizenship to all persecuted Hindu, Sikh, Buddhist, Christian, Parsi and Jain refugees, except Muslims from the neighboring Muslim-dominated countries of Pakistan, Afghanistan and Bangladesh.

Many see this exclusion of Muslim refugees on religious basis as a violation of the secular ethos of the Indian Constitution. But, for the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), the CAA is about fulfilling India's "moral duty" towards "persecuted Hindu minorities". Home minister Amit Shah has reasoned in Parliament that non-Islamic populations face persecution in Pakistan, Afghanistan and Bangladesh.

In his defence, Shah invoked the vulnerabilities of these non-Muslim minorities, more specifically the Hindus in the Muslim-dominated countries. He emphasised on 'privileges' of Muslim refugees stating that they have several Islamic countries to take refuge. Consequently, the BJP has successfully made it all about Hindus versus Muslims.

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