01/01/2020 India (International Christian Concern) – Activists across India brought in the New Year protesting against the amended Citizenship Act (CAA). In Bhubaneswar, Odisha, students and activists braved the cold evening by marching and reading out India’s Constitution.
The controversial CAA, passed by India’s national government in December, provides a path to citizenship in India for many refugees from neighboring countries in South Asia. However, Muslims are specifically excluded from this path to citizenship. Many protestors find this exclusion to be against India’s secular traditions.
Since the passage of the CAA, protests have erupted across India. Students and activists in New Delhi, Lucknow, Hyderabad, and other major cities have staged protests calling for the CAA to be scrapped. Authorities have responded to these protests with violence and dozens of protestors have been injured or killed.
Many see the passage of the CAA as a step too far in the direction of Hindu nationalism. The current government has been led by the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), an explicitly Hindu nationalist party, since 2014. Religious intolerance and outright persecution of India’s minorities has skyrocketed since the BJP took power in India.
For India’s Christian minority, the number of persecution incidents has more than doubled under BJP rule. According to the Evangelical Fellowship of India (EFI), 147 documented incidents of Christian persecution were recorded in 2014. In 2018, four years into BJP rule, EFI documented 315 incidents of persecution.
Looking forward into 2020, it is hoped that the protests against the CAA will bring international attention to the issue of religious persecution in India. Hopefully this attention will be enough to bring about change in India and force the BJP-led government to abandon the Hindu nationalist agenda that is fomenting religious intolerance.
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