Delhi

Paranoia grips city’s Muslim community

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Emotions ranged from fear to resentment and helplessness to disbelief

Rukaiyah Khatoon, a 38-year-old resident of Jaffrabad in northeast Delhi, was scared of her future as well as her family’s in the aftermath of the Citizenship Act. Hiding her facing behind the veil of her black purdah, she broods over the fate of her grandmother, who was born in Old Delhi but doesn’t have proof, should the controversial Act be implemented. “Will she be allowed to stay in India?” the woman wondered.

Rukaiyah was among the scores of people who gathered in Seelampur’s Brahmpuri on Friday afternoon to protest against the Act. “My parents and grandparents are illiterate. People, especially of my grandparents’ age, don’t have any proof of identity except the Aadhaar card. They never kept proof of their birth in India; they didn’t know that they will see a day when they will have to prove their identity,” Rukaiyah said, adding that on Thursday, the atmosphere at her residence was grim and she cried worrying about the future.

Gulafsha, a 20-year-old woman who was at the protest venue and resides in Brahampuri, echoed her concern.“People from our generation have documents of their identity and existence but what about our elders?” she asked.

The protesters complained of being clueless about what the Act has in store for them or the documents that will be required in the process. They said that their only source of information is television and WhatsApp forward messages. “I have heard that we will have to show proof of our identity from 70 years ago. Who will have such papers? Older generations never kept any,” said Mohammed Azeem (20).

Rukaiyah is wondering whether they will have to leave the country. “I have heard that whoever will have proof will stay and those who don’t will be asked to leave. I have also heard that even Muslims who have proof will be asked to go,” she said.

Eighteen-year-old Aftab Malik is scared of whether they would be sent to detention camps. “Some one told me that detention centres are being built,” he said. They equivocally said that the government needs to share the complete process with the people for better clarity.

‘Biased against Muslims’

Protesters, visibly disappointed, called the Act biased against Muslims. “They shouldn’t have been partial against Muslims. It is not right,” said Chaudhary Mateen Ahmed, former MLA and Congress member, who had called for the protest. Standing next to him, Jameel Malik, said: “We are not saying that they should give citizenship to those from Pakistan, Afghanistan and Bangladesh who are coming now, but why displace those who have been living here for decades? For other religions, they are ready to give citizenship even if they have entered illegally but not Muslims. How unfair is this?”

Addressing the rally, Delhi Congress chief Subash Chopra said that the Act was a calculated attempt by the Modi government to create unease and communal divide. He said that there have been attacks on secularism not once, but many times, but the people of India had always rejected the agenda of divisive forces like the BJP.

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Printable version | Jan 26, 2020 1:11:26 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/Delhi/paranoia-grips-citys-muslim-community/article30301695.ece

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