SOUTH AFRICA: On Sunday people from all walks of life took to the Durban beach promenade in protest against India’s Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA). The protest march saw hundreds in attendance was led by the South African Muslim Network (SAMNET).
Attended by ordinary South African citizens, the event saw key SA personalities including retired South African judge Thumba Pillay and Durban entertainer Anasia Govender at the solidarity march. Academic and author Dr Devi Rajab had her personal message of support read out by activist Shabnam Palesa Mohamed.
Her message read,
“I would love to have walked with you. I am not usually prone to marches, but this issue is so important that I would walk to the end of the world for this”
The new act targets a person of Muslim-based identity declaring India a welcome zone to all other religious communities. Indian political opposition parties believe that the CAA seeks to legally define Muslim people as second-class citizens of India.
Introduced in December 2019 these revisions to Indian law granting selective citizenship excludes Muslims from Afghanistan, Bangladesh and Pakistan has sparked protests globally.
Faisal Suleman chairperson of SAMNET, states India’s CAA is discriminatory to the Muslim minority.
“This is not about religion. It’s about human rights. We also wanted to have this march to correctly inform people that this is not an anti-Hindu or anti-India sentiment. We are trying very hard to dispel those lies, but the divisive nature of fake news does make it difficult.Faisal Suleman, SAMNET via IOL
The Citizenship Amendment Act, 2019 (CAA) amends the Citizenship Act of 1955 to make illegal immigrants who are Hindus, Sikhs, Buddhists, Jains, Parsis and Christians from Afghanistan, Bangladesh and Pakistan who entered India on or before December 31 2014 eligible to apply for Indian citizenship.
This however violates Article 14 of India’s Constitution Article 14 that gives the fundamental right of equality to all persons. The Indian government maintains its stance on the Citizenship Amendment Act, 2019 (CAA) stating that the Bill does not discriminate or violate the right to equality.
Some say CAA is likened to South Africa’s apartheid policy is that true?
The recently passed Citizenship Amendment Act has a loose connection to the NPR. There is no direct link just as yet until the Indian government decides on a way forward on the use of data collected for NPR.
India’s NPR, rehash of census count is used for purposes of governance with its objective to have a comprehensive identity database of those residing in India. In line with technological advancement the Census 2021 for India is will conduct the Census/NPR through a mobile phone application .
You may have heard of the Aadhaar card project but this is completely different, in that the NPR collects demographic and biometric data. While Aadhaar, delivers welfare services, similar to the SASSA grant cards issued to South African citizens who seek entitlement from the government.
So what is the big issue here apart from secular politics of the CAA?Section 14A of the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) provides legal basis for NPR linked with the NRC.
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This means if the Indian government wants, at any point of time, the data collected for the NPR may be legally used for NRC. This is the catalyst for tensions from the Muslim community globally. Like the protest held on Sunday against India’s Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) many activists and political parties allege that Narendra Modi government are deliberately targeting the Muslim community to further the Hindutva agenda of the BJP.
Critics of the Modi government allege the latest amendment will shield non-Muslim illegal immigrants while making large number of Muslims stateless people with an uncertain future.