In his second term, Indian prime minister Narendra Modi’s government has expedited efforts to undermine India’s Muslims. While Muslims are widely accepted to be India’s poorest community by religion (in part a statistical quirk given that much of the Muslim middle class moved to Pakistan at partition) the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) believes that for decades other parties – notably the once dominant Congress – have prioritised Muslims over Hindus.
First to go was the “special status” granted to India’s only Muslim-majority state of Jammu and Kashmir. Amongst the provisions removed was that on “outsiders” buying land in the state. This, according to the government, had harmed economic development. Curiously, the government has no plans to remove similar protection granted to several areas of north east India.
Next was a double whammy of the National Register of Citizens (NRC) and the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA). The government has suggested that the NRC – a measure intended to identify illegal immigrants in Assam – should be rolled out nationwide and reportedly instructed India’s states to start constructing detention centres.
Now, proving citizenship in a country in which 38 per cent of under-fives lack birth certificates is likely to prove trickier than the government suggests. And those who may struggle are unlikely to be just Muslims.