Peaceful protesters were immediately met with violence from police and mobs, following the passing of the hugely controversial Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) in 2019. And the legislation continues to be a legal means for state discrimination against Muslims. What could only be described as a brutal pogrom against the Muslim community, resulted in the deaths of 53 mostly Muslim people, injuries to more than 500, and the displacement of roughly 2,000 citizens. 
The turning of events dates back to 12th December 2019, when the prior CAA of 1995 was amended to protect the citizenship rights of migrating Hindus, Sikhs, Buddhists, Jains, Parsis, and Christians from Afghanistan, Bangladesh, and Pakistan, who entered India on or before 31st December 2014.
Why did violence against protesters break out?
The explicit exclusion of Muslims caused unrest amongst the 200 million-strong Muslim population of India, which is the second-largest religious group in the country.
Demonstrations led by ordinary citizens, particularly women and students, began to break out across the country from 15th December 2019.
The acts of bravery displayed by Indian Muslim women became famously known as the Shaheen Bagh protests. This grew into a symbol of resistance against not only the CAA, but also years of religious discrimination in India. 
These sit-in protests were met with severe police brutality. Beatings, property damage, as well as cases of life-threatening injuries were widely reported. However, this did not stop the community from coming out and standing for their rights. Incredibly, these peaceful protests would go on for the next two months. 
Simultaneously, hostile sentiment against anti-CAA protesters was being spurred amongst Indians by BJP (the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party) members. This included an official named Somasekhara Reddy, who gave a “caution” to Muslims against resisting the CAA and warned of “repercussions”. 
Reddy stated on 3 January 2020,
“It’s just a caution for those who are protesting against the CAA. We are 80 per cent and you (Muslims) are 18 per cent. Imagine what will happen if we take charge … Beware of the majority when you live in this country. This is our country.” 
He targeted the Indian Muslim population by stating,
“…if you want to live here, you will have to follow the country’s traditions.” 
Reddy further suggested that Muslims can “go to Pakistan” if they “act as enemies”. The official was later charged for hate speech.  
Numerous similar threats of this nature were made by BJP members and officials. However, it was Kapil Mishra’s speech and rally on the 23rd of February 2020, that would trigger the violence to come. Mishra threatened that if the “roads were not cleared after three days … we will have to come to the roads”, thereby inciting Hindutva-aligned mobs to systematically attack peaceful protesters. 
Delhi, 23-27 February 2020: what really happened?
Within hours of Kapil Mishra’s speech, the attacks began to erupt across multiple Muslim majority areas in India’s capital.
What would be witnessed over the next four days was some of the most horrific scenes of violence.
Muslim homes and businesses were systematically targeted, looted, and torched; people were beaten to death, burnt alive, attacked with acid, mutilated, dragged by their necks, and lynched.  
No Muslim man, woman, child, or elderly person was spared in these vicious attacks. Chilling testimonies reveal the barbaric actions of the BJP-aligned Hindu mobs.
One such testimony, as reported by the Guardian, was from a heavily-pregnant 20-year-old:
“They threw me to the ground, kicked my stomach and my whole body … I pleaded with them not to harm my baby, I said ‘please, please’ over and over, but they kept kicking.” 
Another account by 30-year-old Imran Khan recalled how a mob pulled down his trousers to see whether or not he was a Muslim. Once they became aware, they beat him with iron rods, crowbars, and metal pipes, until they assumed he was dead and dragged him into a gutter. 
Amnesty International argue that Delhi Police personnel were “complicit and an active participant” in the violence. 
Their investigation into the pogrom revealed that the police committed a “disturbing pattern of grave human rights violations”, including: participating in and enabling the violence; using excessive force on protesters; torturing in custody; and failing in their duty to control the situation. 
To this day, justice has not been sought for the thousands of victims of this systematic pogrom. Moreover, the Delhi Police continue to receive impunity for their crimes.
What can we do?
For decades, the plight of Indian Muslims has been ignored and trivialised. The BJP – which is the parliamentary wing of neo-Nazi group, the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) – not only suppresses Muslims in India, but has also exacerbated the oppression of Muslims in occupied Kashmir.
For this reason, we must continue talking about these events, raising awareness, and seeking justice for the victims.
As the British government looks to strengthen existing ties and launch new trade deals with India, we must remind them of the Indian government’s human rights abuses which are a flagrant violation of international law, in addition to constituting crimes against humanity.
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