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Published On: Sun, Jan 19th, 2020

New Caution: NRC Fear Will Stalk Hindus Too

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PTI12_16_2019_000216B_1576689265108_1576689284450 (2)NEW DELHI ; Much of the resistance to the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) and its prequel, the National Register of Citizens or NRC, has advocated that it is Muslims who will be marginalised and forced to prove they belong in India.

Ahead of the Supreme Court’s review, the NRC is now being deemed both discriminatory and dangerous by even long-term supporters of the BJP and its government.
Publicly, they are stating that the NRC must be vetoed because it will allow a power surge through those who have the authority to review whatever evidence you offer of your citizenship; bribes will have free play; and it is not just minorities but the majority of Hindus who will find themselves cornered – pay up or be declared “doubtful”.
A well-known BJP sympathiser – rightly or wrongly often called a BJP troll – tweeted: “All will suffer in the hands of corrupt lower level officials, who will demand large bribes, who can threaten you, disqualify you: with a broken Justice system the pain is not worth it”.
This new approach by analysts on the likely harassment of India’s majority community is making large numbers of Hindus worried. Popular author Chetan Bhagat writes in the Times of India: “The sarkari babu will enjoy this extra power boost. Oh, and there will still be a rate.
It’s just that the stricter the criteria are, the higher the rate will be … If you don’t pay the rate, is it that hard for the babu to reject your genuine birth certificate (good luck proving its authenticity in court for the next 20 years)”.The message these different analyses agree on: that the Hindu majority will face serious and widespread harassment too.
India’s Nobel Prize winner Abhijit Bannerjee strongly points out that so much power given to officials is dangerous: “I’d be petrified by that thought and even if I were – you know just the fact that somebody will come and say ‘Look, I’m in charge of making this list I could put doubtful next to your name… or I could not. And maybe you could pay me ten thousand rupees’ “, he said in a recent interview.
The new bottom line emerging from this review of the CAA and the NRC is that the fear that will haunt everyone is the possibility – even if it has a low probability – of being sent to a “detention camp” or at best, as Chetan Bhagat says, years of proving you are Indian in a court.
They say it’s not about Muslims any more – fear will stalk non-Muslims too in India. And that the exercise proposed by the government is self-defeating, pointless and will only distract from larger and more urgent issues like improving the tattered economy.



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