Guest post by Indians Against Fascism Munich
On Saturday (21st Dec), a crowd of around one hundred Indians residing in Munich and surrounding assembled at Geschwister Scholl Platz, a square in front of the Ludwig Maximilian University of Munich to protest against the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) and the National Register for Citizens (NRC). This place was chosen for its historical significance as it was from here that the White Rose resistance movement against the Nazi regime had started.
Among the participants, there were students from different Universities in Munich, there were kids with their parents, there were people from all parts of India — East, West, North, and South. People carried different posters displaying their resistance against the Government of India for introducing the CAA that was passed recently in the Parliament of India. This law says that the Government will give expedited citizenship to the undocumented migrants from neighboring countries, Pakistan, Bangladesh, and Afghanistan, who belong to Hindu, Sikh, Buddhist, Jain, Parsi and Christian, minorities in those countries.
The law specifically excludes Muslims. This clearly violates the fundamental right to equality guaranteed under Article 14 of the Constitution of India. By introducing a criterion based solely on religion, the law hacks away at the secular character of the Indian Constitution.
The Home Minister of India, Mr. Amit Shah, categorically announced many times with high emphasis that he is going to implement NRC, after the Citizenship Amendment Act, where one needs to have some particular documents to be able to claim citizenship of India. This is highly problematic in a country like India, where many people do not have any documents.
If, as the Home Minister has stated several times, the NRC is implemented after CAA comes into effect, Muslim residents of India will be particularly targeted. In one of the eastern states of India, Assam, where the NRC has already been implemented, 1.9 million people were left out of the citizenship register, 0.7 million being Muslims, and the remaining Hindus. With the CAA, the Government can put those belonging to the religions as mentioned above on the fast track to citizenship, and Muslims alone will be treated as “infiltrators” (a word repeated several times by the Home Minister, himself)!
This is one step closer to making a Hindu Rashtra, a dream of the RSS (Rashtriya Swayam Sevak Sangh, a Hindu extremist organization of India). These two laws make the life of 200 million of Indian Muslims less dignified one and marred by fear of exclusion. It is a way to make Muslims second class citizens of India, which directly violates the constitution of India.
After CAA was passed in Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha in the Indian Parliament, students from Jamia Millia Islamia University started protesting peacefully. Police had tried controlling the protesting students; however, after a few incidents of violent activity, in which the students were not involved, the Delhi Police, which is controlled by the central government, treated the whole University ruthlessly.
They didn’t even spare the library or toilets, shot students, some of whom are still hospitalized. Police also ransacked Aligarh Muslim University, where students were protesting against the law. After looking at these Universities, there is a pan-India protest going on. Meanwhile, the State of Assam is already burning.
We now hear that more than 25 people have died in this nationwide protest. Due to police mishandling of the mob, some peaceful protests are turning violent. Many places are kept cut off from the outside world by shutting down the internet or mobile facilities by the government.
Looking at these incidents, Indian diaspora and their sympathizers around the world have started protesting to show solidarity with their protesting counterparts back home. Indians in Munich came out in large numbers at very short notice and without much promotion. Among the attendees, there were students, workers, and even children.
They started the gathering by showing different placards condemning the very discriminatory act of the Government. They read the Preamble of the Constitution of India together with Shraddha, one Indian student who is doing her Ph.D. in Law at the Max Planck Institut in Munich.
Dr. Sahana Udupa, a professor at LMU who leads a team that carries out research on Digital politics, online extreme speech and hate speech, said that extremist Hindus have aggressively captured online platforms with mass targeting people with their hate speech. The politicization of religion is very common in India. This is very unfortunate, but it has been happening since independence; remember the killing of Mahatma Gandhi, said Mr. Alphonse Arokyaswamy, a Ph.D. student at LMU.
There were also speakers from Assam who updated the actual scenario in Assam at the very moment when NRC has been already implemented. Another important part of this protest march was the famous song of Kanhaiya Kumar, which has become a kind of anthem of today’s revolutionary protests everywhere in India. This song was led by Pranav.
Altogether, the people displayed a peaceful but spirited protest to show solidarity to the fellow Indians back home.