Ever since the Indian Independence, Assamese people have been complaining to the government about the flood of illegal migrants from the neighboring country of Bangladesh. Having formed a majority over the local Assamese population, these illegal immigrants fled their villages in Bangladesh in order to find better work opportunities and to be able to raise their families in what they thought would be a democratic, safe haven.
But Amit Shah, the President of India’s leading party, BJP, has denounced these illegal immigrants as “aliens.” It doesn’t take a lot for this to remind me of the drastically inhumane treatment of illegal immigrants from Mexico by the Trump administration. But what sets India apart from the America’s brutality towards illegal poc (people of color) immigrants is that while America’s policies are increasingly racist, India’s play on the religious divide already existing in the country.
BJP has promised to the local Assamese community that they are going to fish out all the illegal immigrants and send them back to their home countries. But who exactly are these so called “illegal immigrants”?
According to the party’s policies, all those targeted by the immigration officers are made to produce similar authentic identity documents that act as evidence of their Indian citizenship. But most of the people targeted are rural communities who are too poor to possess any documents or navigate their way through the relentlessly hard process of providing proof of citizenship. And what’s more is that most of these communities are largely Muslim.
Moreover, Amit Shah has said to provide means of acquiring naturalized citizenship to some members of the communities, but these are only Indians, Sikhs, or Christians. Muslims have no such opportunity to avail to the government.
This tactic of appealing to religious sentiments is a form of communal politics that has long plagued India and brought into question the validity of it so-called secular constitution.
What will happen to those Indians who have sought refuge in the Eastern borders of India and called this country a home for more than half a decade? They do not have the citizenship of Bangladesh, they are not educated enough to appeal to the international community or fight the religiously segregationist laws of India. Where will they go when the only country they have known as home turns them out?
Indian public needs more awareness of the atrocities that the leading government has been conducting against the minority Muslim communities. We are not going to let BJP hide their Hindu extremism behind nationalism.