Author and activist Arundhati Roy on Thursday joined the protests against the Citizenship Amendment Act in New Delhi. Roy told Scroll.in that the Act had broken the back of the Constitution of India.
The Citizenship Amendment Act, passed in Parliament on December 11, seeks to grant citizenship to six persecuted minority communities from Bangladesh, Afghanistan and Pakistan – except Muslims – as long as people from these communities have come to India on or before December 31, 2014.
“I’m here because as I’ve said before, like demonetisation broke the back of the economy while we all stood in line and gave up our own money, now these laws are breaking the back of the Constitution of the country,” Roy told Scroll.in. “Now you can’t get more raw, open fascist than this. The CAB [Citizenship Amendment Bill] combined with the National Register of Citizens is making petitioners out of the entire population.”
Roy alleged that the Act was anti-Muslim even if it was meant only for undocumented immigrants. She said that to discriminate against Muslims, to leave out Sri Lankan refugees and to not talk about persecuted Muslim minorities in other countries is unconstitutional.
“When you combine CAA with the NRC and when you say that citizenship will be based on the government scrutiny of a certain set of documents, this is what happened in 1935 Germany, these were what were known as the Nuremberg laws,” Roy alleged.
She said that those who carried out the National Register of Citizens exercise in Assam were dissatisfied with the results, and thus want it to take place again. “If you have a margin of error in this exercise it will go into millions,” she said, referring to the numbers of people who may be erroneously left out. Roy alleged that the government has no idea what it would do with these stateless individuals. She claimed that the only effect of this exercise would be to create a social hierarchy like a modern caste system.
“The real idea is to create a rift, to create bigotry as an acceptable idea in our society,” Roy said. “There are not enough prisons to hold these millions of people, it’s just an exercise, a test of whether this country will accept this fascism and the people stood up and said we will not.”
On December 17, Roy had said in a statement that the people of India are now faced with “the biggest challenge since Independence”. She added that the government is set to “break the back of our Constitution and cut the ground from under our feet”.
Police detain activists, Left leaders
Hundreds of protestors have been detained across the country.
Earlier on Thursday, the Delhi Police had detained activists Yogendra Yadav, Prashant Bhushan and Harsh Mander, Left leaders D Raja, Sitaram Yechury, Nilotpal Basu and Brinda Karat, and former Jawaharlal Nehru University student Umar Khalid at different locations in Delhi. Historian Ramchandra Guha was detained in Bengaluru.
In Delhi, prohibitory orders were imposed at the police station areas in Kashmere Gate, Kotwali, and Lahori Gate. The Delhi Police issued an order to block communication of all kinds – voice, SMS and internet – from 9 am to 1 pm in the walled city areas of north and central districts, Mandi House, Seelampur, Jaffrabad, Mustafabad, Jamia Nagar, Shaheen Bagh and Bawana. Some telecom operators also shut down their services briefly following police advice.