Female students tortured in India over anti-CAA protests

Dissidents and students are frequently being targeted by the police in India. Does it mean the beginning of de-democratization of the world’s largest democracy? What does the future hold for India under the leadership of PM Modi?

Students

Indian students and civil society members continue to face unprecedented use of force by the police under the leadership of Prime Minister Narendra Modi who is on his way to turn into a Hindu state.

In a latest development, over 10 female students of Jamia Millia University participating in an anti-CAA (Citizenship (Amendment) Act, 2019) protest march on Tuesday accused Delhi Police officers of hitting them on their private parts, Indian media reported.

The injuries were so severe that the women were shifted to Al-Shifa Hospital from the Jamia Health Centre where they were admitted for treatment. “More than 10 woman students have been hit on their private parts. We have found blunt injuries and some have been hit in a way that we had to shift them to Al Shifa because injuries are serious in nature,” said a resident doctor at the university.

Doctors said some students were suffering from internal injuries as they had been beaten with sticks on their chests. A woman pointed out a police officer standing near her and said that he had hit her on the chest with his boots. Doctors further said that one student had suffered serious injuries and had been shifted to the ICU.

The law and order situation deteriorated in the university after a protest call was given by Jamia Coordination Committee (JCC) against India’s controversial citizenship law. Scores of Jamia Millia students and Jamia Nagar residents got into a scuffle with police after they were disallowed from marching forward.

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Slogans of “Halla Bol” were raised by men who formed a human chain on the side of the roads as women walked ahead towards the parliament. The men formed a human chain to protect the women, the protesters raising slogans of “Kagaz Nahi Dikhayenge’ (We will not show documents) and “Jab Nahi Dare Hum Goron Se Toh Kyun Dare Hum Auron Se” (When we did not fear the British, why should we fear others) as they marched on before being subjected to police brutality.

What is CAA?

According to CAA, six minorities including Jain, Sikhs, Hindus, Christians, Parsis, and Buddhists from three neighboring countries Pakistan, Afghanistan, and Bangladesh are eligible to get citizenship of India if they have lived for six years in the country. These lists exclude Muslim immigrants who have entered the country the same way as other non-Muslims immigrants. This bill amends the citizenship acts of 1995. It is the first time that India has used religion as a legal basis for determining nationality.

Previously India was receiving many illegal migrants from neighboring countries, and the influx of the migrants coming into the country created many problems especially in the Muslim majority providence of Assam. These migrants include people of different religions Hindus, Christians, and Muslims. India does not have any law to give refugee status to illegal migrants, instead it holds the legal right to deport them. This is likely to create a severe humanitarian crisis if these migrants have to face deportation on the basis of faith. The government of India identifies the migrants (on religious grounds) and give them refugee status one by one.

Read more: BJP: Muslims who stayed in India did not do the country a favor

Opposition parties condemn this bill saying it is “unconstitutional and unprecedented”, as never before has religion been the basis of any law in the Indian constitution. Further, they fear that it will marginalize the Indian 200 million Muslim population since it is discriminatory and exclusionary in nature.

Chidambaram from the opposition party said the government was “wrecking and demolishing India’s secular constitution”. The bottom line of all criticism is that this bill is not in line with the Indian constitution but in fact, it is the negation of the creation of India.

Rahul Gandhi Congress leader opposing CAA said, “The CAA is an attack on the Indian constitution. Anyone who supports it is attacking and attempting to destroy the foundation of our nation.

‘CAA is anti-Muslim’

It is worth noting that recently India’s capital, New Delhi, also witnessed massive demonstrations against the law. The protesters are also demanding an investigation into Sunday’s violence in the federally run JMI University, where police barged into the campus, beat up students and allegedly vandalized university property.

Soon after the Friday afternoon prayers, thousands of protesters rallied from the historic Jamia Masjid in Old Delhi to the nearby Delhi Gate carrying national flags and placards and shouting anti-CAA and anti-government slogans. “We will fight this anti-Muslim law tooth and nail. We will rather die but will not back down this time. This government has to revoke its decision at any cost,” a protester told media.

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Hundreds of police and Rapid Action Force (RAF) personnel were deployed at Delhi Gate to stop the demonstrators from proceeding further, while several metro stations were shut down.

Initially, peacefully, the protest turned violent with protesters setting a vehicle on fire and police using water cannon to disperse them “CAA is anti-Muslim and it has to go,” said Feroz Khan, a protester. “Our protests will continue ’til the act is not struck down.”

The rise of Hindutva Regime in India

There is a widely held perception that India is on its way to becoming a ‘no man’s land’ for the Muslims. The mob justice, public humiliation of young Muslim men and the recent decision of the Indian Supreme Court reflect India’s sociopolitical transformation from a secular state to an anti-Muslim regime.

Debarati Guha, head of DW’s Asia Service, opines that “this unconstitutional act also violates and shreds the provisions in the Indian constitution that guarantee citizens’ right to equality, equality before the law and non-discriminatory treatment by the Indian state”.

While highlighting the transformation process of India from a secular state to a Hindutva dominated regime, Debarati Guha points that “even the Supreme Court of India recently awarded a disputed site in the town of Ayodhya to a government-run trust for the construction of a temple to the Hindu god Ram.

Read more: India is violating international obligations, European Parliamentarians

The disputed land was the site of the 16th-century Babri Masjid mosque, which was razed by angry Hindu mobs in 1992 claiming that a Ram temple predated the mosque. With its verdict, the top court granted the land to the “big brother” and told the bullied “little brother” to play somewhere else”.

Political commentators and analysts believe that increasing marginalization of religious minorities in India is likely to disturb the social composition of the country which may potentially disrupt the entire political process.

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