Indian Communists denounce Modi’s new citizenship rules excluding Muslims
Students protest against the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) in Guwahati, India, March 12, 2024. | AP

Indian Communists on Tuesday slammed new citizenship rules announced by Narendra Modi’s government that exclude Muslims. The move by the far-right Hindu nationalist leader comes just weeks before the country’s general election.

The Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) provides a fast track to naturalization for Hindus, Parsis, Sikhs, Buddhists, Jains, and Christians who fled to Hindu-majority India from Afghanistan, Bangladesh, and Pakistan before Dec. 31, 2014.

The law excludes Muslims, who are a majority in all three nations.

The law was approved by the Indian parliament in 2019, but Modi’s Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) government held off its implementation after deadly protests broke out in New Delhi and elsewhere. Scores were killed during days of clashes.

The Communist Party of India-Marxist (CPI-M) said in a statement that the law “makes it clear that the BJP wants to use the implementation of the CAA for divisive and polarizing purposes.”

The CPI-M reiterated “its opposition to the CAA and its implementation” and said it “will continue with efforts to get this pernicious law annulled.”

Tamil Nadu CPI-M State Secretary K. Balakrishnan said Tuesday that the party would not allow the implementation of the CAA in the state. “The law is draconian and will divide the people on religious and communal lines,” Balakrishnan said. “A strong protest will be conducted across the state.”

Modi’s government has defended the 2019 citizenship law as a humanitarian gesture, arguing that the law is meant only to extend citizenship to religious minorities fleeing persecution and would not be used against Indian citizens.

But India’s main opposition Congress Party said the proposals were “evidently designed to polarize the elections.”

Human rights watchdog Amnesty India in a statement called the law “discriminatory” and said it “goes against the constitutional values of equality and international human rights law.”

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Roger McKenzie
Roger McKenzie

Roger McKenzie is the International Editor of Morning Star, Britain’s daily socialist newspaper. He is the author of the book "African Uhuru: The Fight for African Freedom in the Rise of the Global South" published by Manifesto Press.