Anti-CAA demonstrators from all faiths pray for withdrawal of law and communal amity at women-led epicentre of protests.
New Delhi, India – A Hindu priest lights up a sacred fire and chants from his scriptures, surrounded under a large tent by dozens of Muslim women, some sporting vermillion on their foreheads – a gesture of reverence usually displayed by the Hindus.
The priest was participating in an interfaith prayer ceremony held on Thursday at New Delhi’s Shaheen Bagh, a Muslim-dominated neighbourhood in India‘s capital, where an all-women sit-in has turned into the epicentre of nationwide protests against the controversial Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA).
The CAA fast tracks Indian nationality for non-Muslims from three Muslim-majority neighbouring countries – Pakistan, Bangladesh and Afghanistan – who came to India before 2015.
Opposition parties and critics say the CAA violates India’s secular constitution by making religion a marker of citizenship, and have challenged the law in the Supreme Court.
Faced with an ongoing National Population Register (NPR) and a proposed National Register of Citizens (NRC) across India, Muslims, who form 15 percent of India’s 1.3 billion population, fear the steps are aimed at marginalising them.