The New York Times

The New York Times 6 Apr 2020

Modi Denies India Is Targeting Muslims. We Found a Different Reality.


How can someone who's lived for years as a citizen of India suddenly be declared illegal? Whistle-blowers told us how Prime Minister Narendra Modi's party is making Muslims stateless.

Police in India are being accused of targeting Muslims during investigations into communal violence earlier this year.
Dozens of people were arrested during the protests against the controversial Citizenship Amendment Act, which was enacted in December.
Al Jazeera's Elizabeth Puranam reports from the capital, New Delhi.
South Korean government officials are playing down speculation over the health of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, saying he is alive and well. Kim has not been seen in public for more than two weeks - and there have been unconfirmed reports that he was seriously ill following heart surgery.
Governor of New York, Andrew Cuomo, explains what the state of New York is looking at before they reopen the economy saying, "Everybody wants to reopen, the question is how do we reopen." Aired on 5/6/2020.
The World Bank has pledged one billion dollars to India to help tackle the coronavirus pandemic there. The city of Mumbai has some of the highest numbers of cases in India, with many people living in congested slums. Worldwide there are now more than a million confirmed cases of coronavirus. Europe remains at the epicentre of the outbreak. Italy is worst affected with more than 14,000 deaths although the mortality rate is beginning to slow. In France, the number of deaths is continuing to rise. Police in Paris are strictly enforcing tough quarantine measures with railway stations, airports and major roads monitored, to prevent people leaving the city. Clive Myrie presents BBC News at Ten reports from Yogita Limaye in India and Lucy Williamson in Paris.

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This detention center in India’s Assam state
is set to open in a few months.
But India’s Prime Minister, Narendra Modi,
says it doesn’t even exist …
… well this one is real.
And we went to the remote northeast corner of India
to see it for ourselves.
State officials and workers told us
this compound will house up to 3,000 detainees — people who
are declared foreigners.
Reporter: “Why are the walls so high?”
But here’s the thing: Many of the people
likely to be held here might not even
be foreigners at all.
The fear is that most of them will be Muslim.
And the state they live in is leading Modi’s push
to change India into a more overtly Hindu nation.
Monavra Khatun is Muslim.
She says she was born and raised in India,
and has the documents to prove it.
Still, she was left off a roster of Indian citizens
in Assam.
Now, she must prove she’s legal
or risk being sent to detention.
She’s not alone.
Almost two million people were left off that list.
Soon, many will be called to a court like this one called
a Foreigners Tribunal.
These people have been marked as suspected foreigners.
They’re bringing their documents to an official.
That person, appointed by the government,
will then decide if they’re Indian citizens
or foreigners.
Mamoni Rajkumari was one of those officials.
She issued decisions in over 600 cases,
the majority she found, were Indian.
And then —
She sued the government and told us
she was fired because she didn’t declare
enough Muslims as foreigners.
But it was implied.
We found five more officials, like Rajkumari,
who accused the state of targeting Muslims.
Only one other would appear on camera.
The rest feared reprisal.
Kartik Roy said he started to face pressure a few years ago
when Modi’s party, the B.J.P., took control in Assam.
When he didn’t declare more Muslims as foreigners,
he said, he too was fired.
But how can someone with documents
who’s lived for years as a citizen suddenly
be declared illegal?
Take Azbahar Ali.
This spelling error became grounds
for questioning his citizenship.
He lost his case at the Foreigners Tribunal,
and ended up going to jail for almost four years.
During that time, his family sold their land
to pay legal fees.
And his wife committed suicide.
Ali was released on bail.
But until he can convince the court that he’s Indian,
his name will not appear on the citizenship list.
So he could end up back in detention.
And that list: It’s riddled with clerical errors.
This man, Dukhdam Das, is also not on the list.
His case is pretty much identical to Ali’s,
except for one key thing,
he’s Hindu.
And as far as many in Modi’s party are concerned,
that just means Indian.
So in December, the government doubled down.
It passed a new citizenship law
favoring all major religions in South Asia except Islam.
In Assam, that means Hindus who
are left off the botched list could
have their rights restored.
But across the country, critics
see the new law as the latest example
of Modi’s anti-Muslim agenda.
Protests led to religious riots in India’s capital.
More than 50 people died in the violence,
the majority of them Muslims.
But despite months of protesting,
Modi has not backed down.
In fact, officials in his government
have promised to make a country-wide registry
of citizens just like the one in Assam.
Modi has denied that that’s his plan.
Asbahar Ali voted in the past, as only a citizen can.
But he may not get to exercise that right again.

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