18 December 2019 - Appeal to civil disobedience. "The new law on citizenship (Citizenship Amendment Act 2019), approved by Parliament and promulgated on December 12 after the signature of the President of India, is clearly discriminatory, divisive and draconian. It is also unconstitutional and goes against the democratic spirit of India": this is what Indian Jesuit Fr. Cedrik Prakash, an activist engaged in the Jesuit Refugee Service says to Agenzia Fides, expressing the sentiments of the Christian community in India.
The new provision makes illegal immigrants from Hindu, Christian, Buddhist, Sikh and Zoroastrian communities from Afghanistan, Bangladesh and Pakistan eligible for citizenship, significantly excluding those of Muslim religion. The government makes a distinction between Muslims, considered "illegal immigrants", and "refugees" who try to escape persecution in their country of origin. Interior Minister Amit Shah has publicly spoken of "infiltrators", referring to Muslim immigrants. The Indian civil society, that took to the streets to protest, complains about the patent violation of articles 14 and 15 of the Indian Constitution, which guarantees the right to equality and non-discrimination.
Fr. Prakash points out to Agenzia Fides: "The law has a clear majority and discriminatory construct. There is a plan to establish a 'Hindu Kingdom' in India, as was said among Hindu extremist groups already in the 1930s. But then, thanks to enlightened Indians like Gandhi, Nehru, Patel, Ambedkar and others, this plan failed, but surreptitiously and insidiously, today this mentality is again on the rise". The Jesuit continues: "The so-called 'humanitarian approach' towards minorities persecuted in other countries, if it were genuine, should also consider the Rohingya of Myanmar, the Tamils and the Sinhalese of Sri Lanka, the Afghan Hazara and the Ahmadi from Pakistan "If it were a real humanitarian approach, it should not discriminate against anyone".
Now, according to Christian activists in India, "the next step is an appeal to the Supreme Court to declare the law unconstitutional", he notes. "The only option for us, the people of India - says the Jesuit - is civil disobedience. Several eminent citizens have undertaken civil disobedience. To protect our identity and democracy, we must take inspiration from Mahatma Gandhi, who promoted disobedience as a form of resistance and rebellion without violence".
Fr. Prakash concludes: "We must act quickly to ensure that the Citizenship Amendment Act is withdrawn before the extremists take control of our lives and the nation". (PA) (Agenzia Fides, 17/12/2019)