Citizenship Amendment Act: Millions in India Could End Up in Modi’s New Detention Camps

Those who can’t prove citizenship under the CAA (Citizenship Amendment Act) face an uncertain future as construction of the largest center in Assam nears completion.

The new detention camp is located 130 kilometers (80 miles) from Guwahati, Assam’s largest city. Guwahati has been gripped by ongoing protests over the contentious issue of citizenship.

The new detention camp is located 130 kilometers (80 miles) from Guwahati, Assam’s largest city. Guwahati has been gripped by ongoing protests over the contentious issue of citizenship. The camp is spread over 2.5 hectares (6 acres). It will house both male and female detainees and come equipped with a hospital and a school.

It was built at a cost of about 465 million rupees ($6.5 million). The tea-growing state of Assam is one of India’s poorest, and its growth has been among the lowest in the country.

Upon completion, the camp will have the capacity to house as many as 3,000 people. That’s a small fraction of the 1.9 million left off the state’s citizenship list so far.

Modi’s BJP, which won re-election last year in a landslide, has long viewed India’s secular character as capitulation to religious minorities such as Muslims, who make up 14% of the nation’s 1.3 billion people. The party sees its agenda as righting historical wrongs imposed upon the Hindu majority, including by Muslim rulers who built iconic structures like the Taj Mahal centuries ago — a strategy it hopes will let it win elections for decades.

Citizenship is a key part of that effort. Home Minister Amit Shah — Modi’s right-hand man — described undocumented migrants from neighboring Muslim-majority Bangladesh as “termites” during a campaign rally in 2019.

Assam has so far been the only state to start determining citizenship claims. Under a process monitored by the Supreme Court, it has assessed who was born in the state and who might be a migrant from across the border in Bangladesh.

But the process has been a mess. Assam’s citizenship list, which effectively left 1.9 million people stateless when it was published in August, has been plagued by basic clerical errors and mistaken identities, leaving families divided and those without adequate documents vulnerable to harassment and worse.

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In This Story: Bangladesh

Bangladesh, officially the People’s Republic of Bangladesh, is a country in South Asia. It is the eighth-most populous country in the world, with a population exceeding 162 million people.

In terms of landmass, Bangladesh ranks 92nd, spanning 148,460 square kilometres (57,320 sq mi), making it one of the most densely populated countries in the world.

Bangladesh shares land borders with India to the west, north, and east, Myanmar to the southeast, and the Bay of Bengal to the south. It is narrowly separated from Nepal and Bhutan by the Siliguri Corridor, and from China by Sikkim, in the north, respectively.

Dhaka, the capital and largest city, is the nation’s economic, political, and cultural hub. Chittagong, the largest seaport, is the second-largest city.

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