We are heartened by the news of West Bengal legislative assembly passing a resolution against India’s controversial Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) which makes faith a basis for attaining Indian citizenship, discriminating against the Muslims. West Bengal is the fourth Indian state to reject the law, after the Left-ruled Kerala and Congress-ruled Punjab and Rajasthan. These resolutions, which basically asked the central government to withdraw the CAA, are significant because they reflect people’s opinion in individual states and can together turn the tide in favour of the secular forces. The growing list of states rejecting the law also represents the disquiet on the ground, as protests continue to rock the country and spill onto newer territories. Earlier this week, Indian Americans joined by civil rights groups held demonstrations in some 30 US cities demanding the repeal of CAA. On Thursday, the European Parliament is set to vote on a resolution condemning the law and urging the EU’s foreign service to put pressure on New Delhi.
Whether the collective force of these protests and resolutions will make the Indian ruling party see the pitfalls of its divisive policies remains to be seen. We remain hopeful, however, as the people, irrespective of faith, have come out to assert their belief in their shared humanity. As long as they stand firm and united, India’s glorious secular legacy is secure. In Bangladesh, India’s closest neighbour, the CAA and earlier the NRC have caused considerable disquiet as the general public are deeply distrustful of their likely outcome. If India does go ahead with them, there are fears that the fate of Indian Muslims unable to prove their citizenship might directly affect Bangladesh. We have repeatedly expressed our concerns in these columns before, especially with regard to how the contagious rhetoric of the pro-CAA camp might end up escalating tensions in Bangladesh and hurting its communal harmony. Even Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina gave voice to the concerns last week, by calling the CAA “unnecessary”. As we deeply value our friendship with India, we hope good sense would prevail there and the Indian government would move away from implementing this ill-conceived piece of legislation.