Delhi’s deadly riots, explained by an expert

The new law that's testing India’s secular values.

On December 11th, 2019, India’s parliament passed a controversial new law: the Citizenship Amendment Act. The law fast-tracks citizenship for migrants from three neighboring countries, specifically if they are Hindus, Sikhs, Buddhists, Jains, Parsis, or Christians. It conspicuously leaves out Muslims.

Since the law was passed, it’s drawn widespread opposition and protests, and not only because it discriminates against Muslims. The law is also closely linked to another controversial initiative: the National Registry of Citizens, a citizenship list that could potentially leave millions of people, primarily Muslims, stateless.

So far, only the northeastern state of Assam has implemented the NRC. In August 2019, the government of Assam published a citizenship list that left off nearly 2 million residents. And without the citizenship fast-track that the Citizenship Amendment Act grants to other religions, the Muslims left off that list are at risk of losing their citizenship entirely.

To understand the law, the national registry of citizens, the controversy they’ve ignited, and what might happen next, we spoke with Milan Vaishnav, Director of the South Asia Program at Carnegie Endowment for International Peace.

For more context on India’s secular roots and its tense religious divide, watch our episode of Vox Borders India about the 1947 partition of India:

And for more recent context, you can watch another Vox Borders video about India’s cow vigilantes and their attacks on Muslims in recent years:

If you want to dive deep into the law, here’s both India’s original 1955 Citizenship Act and the 2019 Citizenship Amendment Act, which modifies the original law to provide a new path to citizenship based on religion:

You can also learn more about how documentation (birth certificates in particular) works in India and why millions are vulnerable to the new law:

And watch France 24’s news coverage of the situation in Assam, including the detention camps:

The step-by-step fact-checking process of the verified viral videos of the mosque being vandalized in Delhi can be found here:

And here, for the police brutality video:

Here are some additional sources on the rise of Hindu nationalism in India under Modi’s BJP party: