A Year After CAA, India Doubles Down on Dissent

December 12, 2020, marked the one-year anniversary of the enactment of CAA. A global pandemic hasn’t stopped India from going after its own citizens.

Meher Manda

December 21, 2020

A Year After CAA, India Doubles Down on Dissent

When I spoke to Dr. Umar Khalid, the former Democratic Students’ Union leader from Delhi’s Jawaharlal Nehru University, in July, reports that Khalid had been charged under the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (UAPA) had begun making rounds. But Khalid was uncertain. He told me over the phone, “I don't know whether I've been charged with UAPA. The Delhi Police did not get in touch with me. So I presume that I haven't been charged yet, because otherwise, I would have been arrested immediately.”

By September 14, Khalid was officially charged and arrested under the Act.

Since March, India has been dealing with COVID-19 and its economic fallout. The pandemic has also halted the protests against the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA), which fast-tracks Indian citizenship for non-Muslim refugees from Pakistan, Bangladesh, and Afghanistan, and the National Register of Citizens (NRC), which, when implemented nationally in 2021, requires Indians to prove their citizenship. Many believe that the CAA coupled with the NRC can lead to the disenfranchisement of Indian Muslims and others who may struggle to prove Indian heritage. December 12, 2020, marked the one-year anniversary of the enactment of CAA.

But the pandemic hasn’t stopped the Indian government from cracking down on dissenters — academics, activists, and artists — with its colonial-era sedition law and the UAPA.