Protests in the Indian state of Assam left six people dead on Thursday, while violent clashes in Delhi between civilians and police hospitalized fifty on Monday and are ongoing. This violence follows the recent passage of the Citizenship Amendment Bill (CAB) by the Indian parliament, which grants citizenship to non-Muslim illegal immigrants from neighboring Pakistan, Bangladesh, and Afghanistan, which are all Muslim-majority countries.
CAB is the first bill in over 60 years that would amend India’s laws regarding citizenship, which prohibited illegal migrants from obtaining citizenship. Young people and Muslims are critical of the CAB for being discriminatory against Muslims and unconstitutional under secular Indian law, while others, primarily on border regions like Assam, fear that the CAB could prompt an influx of unwanted immigrants into the area.
Compounding the anger over the CAB is the issue of the National Citizenship Registry (NCR), which is a list of those who can prove their residence in India before March 24, 1971, one day before Bangladesh became an independent country. Many in Assam fear the CAB and the NRC could mean that millions of Bengali immigrants might be able to gain citizenship in the state, which locals fear would “overrun” them. The ruling BJP, a Hindu-nationalist party, has stated the CAB is not meant to discriminate but rather to assist those who are fleeing religious persecution.
This response has not stopped young people in Indian cities and universities from protesting the CAB. As violent conflict continues in major cities and Assam, and with the government not backing down on the CAB or NRC, tensions are high over issues of immigration and identity.
Read more on the CAB, NRC, and ongoing protests here.
Read more about broader Hindu-nationalism in India here.