A few days ago, on a cold morning here in Mumbai, I was reading the newspaper, when I heard some strange noise outside my residence. I glanced outside the window and saw an Anti- CAA demonstration holding fairly large- sized placards and marching across the street.
Demonstrations like the above are hardly surprising. Ever since the BJP has come back to power last year, the Prime Minister and his second-in command Home Minister Amit Shah have been pushing its agenda one after the other. The manner and aggression in which the government has framed legislations and policies in Modi 2.0 and forced it upon the people, have in a way forced the latter to come out on the streets and protest against the government.
Abrogation of Article 370
On the 5th of August, 2019, the Centre carried out the abrogation of Article 370 and split Jammu and Kashmir into 2 Union territories. In order to carry out the same, the administration detained and arrested hundreds of Political leaders and activists, prominent among them being the former Chief Ministers of the erstwhile state – Omar Abdullah and his father Farooq Abdullah along with Mehbooba Mufti.
Even as I write this piece, the situation in the valley is quite disturbing. Publication of print media is suffering, political leaders remain under detention, businesses have suffered huge losses and people in the newly carved Union Territories have no inkling of what their future is going to be like.
Internet services that were banned in the union territory continue to remain the same way. In what has been seen as a good sign, the Supreme Court yesterday made it official that access to Internet is a fundamental right and cannot be suspended indefinitely. Yet, access to Internet will not help to win the confidence of the people. The Centre needs long-term confidence building measures.
Having completed the long- pending demand of the abrogation of Article 370 by its ideological mentor – the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), the Centre embarked with yet another mission – to sort out the problem of illegal migration.
On 31st August last year, the National Registry Citizens (NRC), which was mandated by the Supreme Court, was released for the North-eastern State of Assam. The final list for the state showed around 19 Lakh people who were excluded. What’s worth noting it that most of the excluded people belonged to the majority community, who constitute an important chunk of votes for the Bharatiya Janata Party. To give them citizenship, the government introduced the Citizenship Amendment Act 2019. The legislation promises to give citizenship to members of the Hindu, Buddhist, Christian, Parsi, Sikh, and Jain communities who have come from Pakistan, Bangladesh and Afghanistan till December 31, 2014, whilst excluding Muslims.
What followed was a massive public outrage against the legislation. It was not just the opposition parties that protested, civil society groups also came out on the streets too. A sense of anarchy was visible in Assam for some time, where the vehicles and properties of the ruling BJP’s legislators were vandalized. Elsewhere, protests were visible in Tripura, Nagaland, Uttar Pradesh and Bihar to name a few.
Next, the Centre came out with the National Population Register (NPR), with the Union Cabinet announcing the allocation of Rs 3,500 crores late December. Since the announcement of the NPR has come in the middle of a controversy surrounding the NRC, widespread confusion has been visible. In states like Uttar Pradesh, Bihar and West Bengal a sudden increase in demand for birth certificates has been reported.
Let’s not discount the fact that this government has a little more than 4 years to complete its term. Yet, the Chaos, anarchy and confusion that has come about in the governments’ second term is disturbing. Our great Indian republic, which completes 71 years very soon, is in great danger of being eroded, if the situation remains the same. Perhaps, it’s time for the Modi- Shah duo to go back to the drawing board, before coming out with contentious policy decisions in future.