India’s bishops are meeting to decide their response to the Hindu-led government’s new citizenship laws, amid fears that they could target Catholics and other religious groups
“No other community will have a say in this country. Only Hindus will.” The young man who said this had just been arrested for firing two shots in the air near a protest camp that has blocked a highway on the outskirts of Delhi, India’s capital, for several weeks.
The protesters believe that the gunman was echoing the views of Narendra Modi’s Hindu nationalist government. Last December it passed a new law, the Citizenship (Amendment) Act (CAA), which is seen as targeting the country’s Muslim minority. The Delhi protest camp is the longest lasting of the widespread demonstrations against the act, and it has seen about 30 deaths in clashes with the police.
The government insists that the Act merely provides a path to citizenship for refugees from religious persecution in the region’s three Muslim-majority countries – Pakistan, Afghanistan and Bangladesh – as long as they are Hindus, Sikhs, Christians, or members of smaller faiths, such as Buddhists, Jains or Parsees. Critics point out that persecuted Muslim sects such as the Shias or Ahmadiyas are not mentioned. Nor are non-Muslim countries where Hindus face discrimination, such as Sri Lanka.