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India’s Citizenship Law Crosses The Line

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February 13, 2020

The American Anthropological Association stands in solidarity with the protests in India against the Indian national government’s Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) and National Register of Citizens (NRC) and strongly condemns their violent suppression.

Following the brutal crackdown in Kashmir, the CAA sends another ominous message to India’s 200 million Muslims, to secular-minded Hindus and to people of other faiths. In conjunction with the NRC, it legitimizes discrimination on the basis of religion in the determination of Indian citizenship, offering Hindu, Jain, Zoroastrian, Sikh, Buddhist and Christian migrants from Pakistan, Bangladesh and Afghanistan a path to Indian citizenship, while explicitly excluding Muslims. By authorizing a hierarchy of citizenship based on communal identity, the Act breaks with India’s secular foundation and represents the creep of ethno-nationalism into the legal structures of the Indian state.

Millions of Indians have taken to the streets to protest the CAA and NRC, and in some areas were met with a heavy-handed police crackdown resulting in brutal beatings and tragic deaths. Violence has also been unleashed against students at Jamia Millia Islamia University (New Delhi), Aligarh Muslim University (Aligarh), Jawaharlal Nehru University (New Delhi), and other educational institutions across India.

Anthropology as a discipline is committed to understanding the bases and forms of human diversity and to advancing progressive and inclusive visions of society. Anthropologists have drawn attention to the threat of inclusivity posed by majoritarian nationalisms that seek to make difference the basis for a denial of human and civic rights.

As scholars committed to social inclusion and freedom of political expression, we call on the Indian government to end its brutal crackdown on protestors and adhere to the Constitution of India by allowing its citizens the right to protest and the guaranteed freedom from discrimination.

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