12/16/2019 India (International Christian Concern) – On December 12, India’s national government, led by the Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), passed one of the most religiously divisive laws in the country’s recent history. The Citizenship Amendment Bill, informally called the CAB, was signed into law by India’s president after it was passed by both legislative branches of the national government. Since its passage, protests against the law have raged across India.
The now enacted CAB will make it easier for “persecuted minorities” from Pakistan, Afghanistan, and Bangladesh to obtain citizenship in India if they can prove they have lived in the country since 2015. The law specifically provides this path to citizenship for Christians, Hindus, Buddhists, Jains, Sikhs, and Parsis. Intentionally omitted, however, are Muslims.
Protestors claim that this divisive law is intended by the BJP to polarize religious communities in India and continue to promote the BJP’s Hindu nationalist agenda. Since coming to power in 2014, the BJP-led government has enacted many pro-Hindu policies that have left India’s religious minority communities uneasy about their future in India.
In 2019 alone, new states have proposed anti-conversion laws, India’s only Muslim-majority state was stripped of its statehood, and a Hindu temple was allowed to be built on the site of a Muslim mosque that was torn down by Hindu radicals in the 1990’s. Added to these religiously divisive policies, BJP leaders continued to perpetuate national narratives that paint India’s religious minorities as outsiders and anti-nationals.
With a new year just around the corner, it is likely that the BJP-led government will continue on its march to re-establish India as a Hindu nation. For India’s religious minorities, including Christians, this means that intolerance and persecution will likely continue to increase.
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