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India: Clerics ask Muslims to recheck records

Mosques across India appealing to people to recheck their documents as millions fear new law would strip their citizenship

Ahmad Adil   | 12.12.2019
India: Clerics ask Muslims to recheck records FILE PHOTO

Chandigarh, INDIA

Feeling Muslims’ status under siege, several mosques in southern India are making announcements to Muslims during Friday prayers urging them to recheck their identity records to make sure they are error free.

The development comes at a time when India’s Home Minister Amit Shah has said there would be a nationwide National Register of Citizens (NRC), a move the government says is aimed at weeding out “all illegal infiltrators from India.”

“We don’t have any problem with the NRC or the Citizenship Amendment Bill because we are citizens,” Maulana Mohammed Maqsood Imran Rasheedi, a top Muslim cleric in Bengaluru in the India state of Karnataka, told Anadolu Agency.

“But just as a precautionary measure, we are appealing in mosques for people to recheck their documents and apply immediately for corrections if there are any mistakes. The activity started three months ago and it is helping people from the community.”

He added: “All mosques all over Karnataka are appealing to people … We have spoken to ulemas [Muslim authorities] in neighboring states as well and it is helping.”

In an National Register of Citizens in the northeastern state of Assam under a Supreme Court-monitored process published on Aug. 31, the Indian government said 19 million people were ineligible for inclusion in the final NRC.

Not only mosques in Karnataka, but several Muslims groups have recently appealed to members of the Muslim community to recheck their documents.

“We issued an appeal last month asking people in the community to recheck their documents. It was just to make the public aware so that they don’t face any problems if they need to produce their documents anywhere,” Maulana Aneesur Rahman Qasmi, the nazim of Imarat-e Sharia Bihar, told Anadolu Agency. He said the NRC is troubling all citizens of the country no matter their faith.

India’s lower house of parliament passed the contentious Citizenship Amendment Bill on Monday. Under the bill, citizenship would be granted to Hindus, Buddhists, Sikhs, Jains, Parsis and others who fled religious persecution in mainly Pakistan, Bangladesh, and Afghanistan, provided they can prove who they are and show evidence that they have resided in India for six years. But Muslims in the same position would be deported or jailed.

While the Indian government is saying Muslims need not to be worried, several Muslim leaders charge both measures are aimed at tearing the country’s secular fabric.

“The NRC is an attempt to divide the people in the country,” Tasleem Rehmani, head of the Muslim Political Council of India and leader of India's Social Democratic Party, told Anadolu Agency.

“We will boycott the NRC, if it comes … Both measures divide the social fabric of the country.”

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