Muslims in India protest attacks on citizenship rights

By Brian Williams
March 16, 2020
PTI photo

Opponents of the rights of Muslims organized a series of assaults against protesters and others in predominantly Muslim areas of northeast New Delhi Feb. 23-25. They set fire to shops, a mosque, cars, buses and makeshift dwellings. Using rocks, metal bars and gunfire, they killed at least 38 people and injured over 200 in the worst sectarian violence in India’s capital in decades.

Since December, hundreds of thousands of Muslims and others have been protesting passage of the Citizenship Amendment Act, pushed by Prime Minister Narenda Modi and his Hindu-nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party. This law makes religion the criterion for who will be offered Indian citizenship and discriminates against Muslims. Modi’s government is also trying to impose a new National Register of Citizens, aimed against Muslims.

Modi’s forces have suffered some setbacks. In elections for the municipal government in New Delhi the Bharatiya Janata Party got only eight of the 70 seats. Voters rejected its virulent anti-Muslim campaign.

Over 500 women have camped out at Shaheen Bagh, above, a working-class neighborhood in Delhi, for over two months, calling for an end to the two anti-Muslim measures. People have come from around the country to express their solidarity. The attacks in the city’s northeast came after hundreds of women moved to set up another camp in Jaffrabad, which the thugs succeeded in disbanding.

The women at Shaheen Bagh remain determined. “Let them bring their police, their goons, their truckloads of stones,” 32-year-old Fatima Khatun told ThePrint news agency. “We are not going anywhere till CAA and NRC are rolled back.”