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Fear, Uncertainty Loom Over Shaheen Bagh Residents A Day After CAA Notification

The CAA, enacted by Parliament in 2019, aims to expedite citizenship for undocumented non-Muslim migrants from Pakistan, Bangladesh and Afghanistan who arrived in India before December 31, 2014.

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Fear looms over the residents of Shaheen Bagh area, after CAA implementation Photo: Getty Images
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Fear and uncertainty loomed over the residents of southeast Delhi's Shaheen Bagh area, a day after the Centre notified the rules of CAA.

The CAA, enacted by Parliament in 2019, aims to expedite citizenship for undocumented non-Muslim migrants from Pakistan, Bangladesh and Afghanistan who arrived in India before December 31, 2014. With the recent notification of the rules, persecuted non-Muslim migrants — Hindus, Sikhs, Jains, Buddhists, Parsis and Christians — from these nations are now eligible for Indian nationality.

Locals in the area said they feel the implementation of the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) could adversely impact the Muslim population. On the first day of Ramadan, the area was peaceful, with men clad in kurta-pyjama and skull caps, heading to the local mosque for the afternoon prayers.

Shaheen Bagh was the epicentre of protests against the CAA for nearly 100 days in 2019-2020. Many residents refused to speak to the media, saying they could be targeted for speaking against the current regime.

According to a police officer, around 500 security personnel have been deployed in the area to avoid any possibility of unrest.

"We have deputed a team of police personnel at different points in the area to do regular patrolling. So far, the situation is under control also because of Ramadan. We are not expecting any agitation," a policeman deployed in the area said.

The locals said they are unhappy with the Centre's decision to notify the CAA after their relentless struggle to fight against the "undemocratic" Act. "Ramadan has started, so most of the residents in the area are busy with preparations. But in our heart, we feel anger and anguish that our struggle (anti-CAA protests during 2019-20) has gone wasted. If it was not for Ramadan, we would have protested again," a resident said on the condition of anonymity.

Another local, Mohammad Sajid, said they are scared and unsure of what will happen to them now. "By implementing CAA, the government is trying to silence our voice and push us aside," he said.

"We are angry with this decision. The Centre is using their power to target Muslims. We will not accept this order. It is only for the safety of our families that we are quiet," Huzaifa, a shopkeeper, said.

Shop-keepers who witnessed the agitation against CAA during 2019-20, said they feel the government has failed the people in the area by implementing CAA.

"It is sad that the government did not consider the struggle of people who protested against CAA. They are also citizens of this country. Their opposition should have been considered," a shop owner not wanting to be named said.

Official sources have said CAA-2019 is a law to give citizenship and will not take away citizenship of any Indian irrespective of their religion, adding it is only for those who have suffered persecution for years and have no other shelter in the world except India. Many misconceptions have been spread regarding the CAA, they said.

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