As civil disobedience, I will register as Muslim and invite the consequences: Harsh Mander

12 December 2019
Courtesy Sandeep Yadav
Courtesy Sandeep Yadav

By 11 December, both houses of Parliament had passed the contentious Citizenship (Amendment) Bill of 2019. The CAB excludes members of six communities—Hindu, Sikh, Buddhist, Jain, Parsi and Christian—from Afghanistan, Pakistan or Bangladesh, from being treated as illegal immigrants, if they entered India on or before 31 December 2014. The bill eases the requirements for them to gain Indian citizenship. Notably, illegal Muslim migrants from these countries will not be entitled to the benefits under the bill, and will continue to be considered illegal immigrants.

Observers have commented that the CAB is possibly a precursor to a nationwide implementation of the National Register of Citizens, in order to identify and expel illegal immigrants. Since non-Muslim illegal migrants would be able to avail Indian citizenship through the CAB, it would in effect leave only Muslims vulnerable to expulsion from the country.

On 10 December, after the Lok Sabha passed the bill, the human-rights activist Harsh Mander made an announcement on Twitter. “If CAB is passed, this is my civil disobedience: I will officially register Muslim,” he wrote. “I will then refuse to submit any documents to NRC. I will finally demand the same punishment as any undocumented Muslim- detention centre & withdrawn citizenship. Join this civil disobedience.”

Abhimanyu Chandra is a PhD student in the Department of South Asian Languages and Civilizations at the University of Chicago.

Keywords: Harsh Mander NRC Citizenship (Amendment) Bill National Register of Citizens citizenship