Dear Decaturish – Atlanta area South Asians to protest Citizenship Amendment Act in India
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As the daughter of Hindu Indian immigrants in the US, many have asked me why I am so outraged and have such indignation about the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) in India. I have heard questions like, “Why do you care? What right do you have to take a stand against what is happening in the subcontinent?”
Both sets of my grandparents were expelled from their homes in 1947 during the Partition of India and Pakistan. I’ve heard stories of my maternal grandfather’s family arriving in newly partitioned and independent India with lice infested limbs from the long journey between Sialkot, Pakistan and New Delhi, India. Both of my parents were subsequently born and raised in refugee camps. The pain, trauma, and anger from Partition has been passed down generation to generation including a distrust of Muslims in South Asia. But being two generations removed from this trauma, I know that the trauma occurred on both sides. Rather than perpetuate this trauma, hate, and pain, I decided that I wanted to heal — for my children, myself, and my family.
My grandparents and parents have always lamented the Partition of India and Pakistan– and the rise of communal tensions– a legacy of the British’s divide and conquer strategy. But over 70 years later, the Modi-led government is taking advantage of the trauma of Partition, seeking to further deepen the divide among South Asians by caste and creed, rather than bring us together — and all for the benefit of upper caste Hindus.
The CAA amends the Citizenship Act of 1955 and allows for resettlement and a path to citizenship for Hindus, Parsis, Buddhists, Jains, and Sikhs from neighboring Bangladesh, Pakistan, and Afghanistan but specifically and intentionally excludes Muslims. The Modi-led government under the right-wing Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) maintains that the purpose of the law is to protect persecuted religious minorities in neighboring countries. However, in actuality, the law creates an unconstitutional religious requirement for citizenship. In the state of Assam, through the publication of a National Registry of Citizens (NRC), India revoked the citizenship status of over 1.9 million individuals including both Hindus and Muslims, thus rendering them stateless. There is now talk to do the same in the rest of the country. Thus, despite arguments to contrary, the CAA does not stand by itself as a law intended to protect the vulnerable in neighboring Muslim majority coutries. Rather, coupled with the NRC, South Asians around the world know that the BJP led government is on a dangerous path to expel India of its undocumented, caste oppressed, and religious minorities who will not be able to provide the required documents to prove their status as citizens. The CAA, coupled with the NRC, further creates the legal foundation for the largest Muslim Registry and network of detention camps in the world. Hundreds of millions of people are at risk with Muslims, Dalits, and the poor all in the cross hairs of this bill.
The protests that have taken place in India have already led to state-sponsored violence, specifically targeting Muslim and Progressive students. As of December 21, 2019, over 26 people have been killed across India, most of them young people and almost all of them Muslim. Because of this government’s actions, there is a current Genocide Watch issued for India. Hundreds of protestors and students have been taken into police custody and the internet has been cut off in large cities.
In addition, the Hindu Right in the US has had a significant impact on American politics– influencing how history about the subcontinent is taught in American schools, funding and campaigning for the BJP and the Modi led government, and supporting the current Trump Administration despite the President’s anti-immigrant stance.
Benefitting from the Model Minority Myth and High Caste Privilege, Indian Americans that are members of the Hindu Right are turning an ignorant eye to the ways the current administration is harming the South Asian Diaspora from the Muslim Ban to the forced feeding of South Asian asylum seekers to the overall xenophobia and Islamophobia that impacts us all regardless of our religion.
For these reasons, on January 19, 2019, and again on January 26, 2019, thousands of South Asian Americans and members of the South Asian Diaspora across the country will come together in protest of the passage of the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) in India and to take a stand to Stop Genocide in India. Here in Atlanta, protests are also planned in conjunction with Equality Labs, a South Asian American organization that focuses on advocating for Dalits, Adivasis, and religious minorities of India (Muslims, Christians, Sikhs, Buddhists, and Jains) and Ambedkar International Center, an Ambedkarite organization.
The first action, a march on January 19, 2020 at 2pm here in Decatur, is being organized by a coalition of South Asians including Hindus, Muslims, Sikhs, Christians, Baha’is, and Dalits. It will be held at the gazebo next to the Whole Foods 365 grocery store, located at 1555 Church Street in greater Decatur. Our organizers have family living on all sides of the borders that make up the subcontinent. We are committed to inter-faith inter-caste organizing against Hindu fascism. We cannot allow fundamentalism to rip apart the secular fabric of our communities. This action is vital because the time to stop a genocide is before it starts and we ask all who fight for human rights and justice to join us.
Local organizers include myself, Kavita Rajanna, Nidal Karim, Gayatri Sethi, Anjali Enjeti, Anna Kurien, Sakib Qureshi, Soniah Kamal, and many others. Follow us on twitter @AtlAgainstCAA and email us at [email protected]
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