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modi

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi at an international conference in 2017.

Photo Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

We, the undersigned students, alumni, and affiliates of Princeton University, recognize, respect, and stand in solidarity with the peaceful protests by students of Jamia Millia Islamia and Aligarh Muslim University against the passing of the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) of 2019. Further, we stand with the peaceful protests occurring across the country and condemn the use of force by the police forces as well as the imposition of Section 144, suspension of public transit, and mobile and internet services. 

The foundation of independent India rests upon a legacy of secularism and freedoms of religion, expression, and dissent. The CAA and the acts of the Indian state and police apparatus in silencing protests against it violate these rights and pose a threat to their future in India. The CAA offers citizenship to Hindus, Sikhs, Buddhists, Jains, Christians, and Parsis from India’s neighboring states (namely Pakistan, Afghanistan, and Bangladesh) who are facing, and in the past have faced, religious persecution. The Act specifically fails to mention Muslims, other religious minorities, and other neighboring states, such as Sri Lanka, in its language. The language of the CAA suggests that Muslims do not face persecution at the hands of the aforementioned states. However, the systematic state persecution of Ahmadis in Pakistan, as well as of the Rohingyas in Myanmar, points to the contrary. 

When viewed alongside plans for the expansion of the National Register of Citizens (NRC), this threatens to reshape Indian citizenship along communal lines. While proponents of the CAA have argued that it will not affect Indian citizens, senior leadership of the government itself has suggested that the CAA and NRC must be viewed in conjunction. If so, it will require the entire population of the country to prove their citizenship. If the CAA and NRC are not repealed, and state actors carrying out violence at universities and protests are not held responsible, we will be setting a dangerous legal precedent for further religious discrimination and a precedent for further impunity. 

We believe these events are a gross violation of the spirit of the Indian Constitution, specifically Article 14 and Article 19, which clearly outlines secular ideals, as well as the idea of India as a society of free speech. In addition to being an assault on the secular ideals of the nation, the possibility of a collective rollout of the CAA and the nationwide NRC will significantly disadvantage economically marginalized communities, as well as those belonging to the various other minority groups, including but not limited to SC/ST/OBC and LGBTQ+, of the country. Understanding the intersectionality of economic, social, and political marginalization of communities in the country is fundamental to why we oppose the CAA and NRC. 

The use of violent means by the state and police to suppress peaceful protests against this act, specifically by university students, will unravel the democratic ethos of our nation. Obstacles to protests, including the imposition of Section 144 of the Criminal Penal Code, police detentions, metro station lockdowns, and suspensions of mobile internet service in the capital, deny citizens’ rights to peacefully express objections. State-sponsored use of violence against students in Jamia Millia Islamia and Aligarh Muslim University, as well as against protests in the states of Uttar Pradesh, Delhi, Karnataka, Assam, Jammu and Kashmir, and Tripura is a gross violation of free speech. Damaging the secular fabric as well as the central tenets of a functioning democracy will endanger the constitutional morality of the country. We also condemn the spread of disinformation through social media, by politicians and political parties, aimed at discrediting legitimate protests and the demands of protestors. The use of divisive rhetoric and erroneous connection of the protestors to particular religions or parties is polarizing the nation further, creating an atmosphere of hate and fear. 

In light of the concerns mentioned above, we put forth the following demands to the Government of India: 

  1. An immediate repeal of the Citizenship Amendment Act of 2019 and a prevention of a nationwide rollout of the National Register of Citizens. All future attempts at dividing the nation on sectarian lines must be curtailed in order to protect the morality and the basic fabric of the Indian Constitution. 
  2. An independent investigation into the excesses committed by the police forces across the country in order to prevent any and all instances of impunity, either in the present or in the future. 
  3. An immediate repeal of Section 144, as well as the internet shutdowns, communication blockades, and curfews in various parts of the country, especially in Assam and Jammu and Kashmir. 
  4. Protection of citizens’ rights to free speech and expression, to protest, and to dissent, all guaranteed rights in the Indian Constitution and fundamental to the ethos of democratic debate. Grant interim protection to student protestors from various universities so they can exercise their right to protest peacefully, without fear of police crackdown. 

This letter was written by Kamya Yadav ’21, Arya Goel ’20, Aparna Shankar ’21, Kanishkh Kanodia ’23, and Ashira Shirali ’22, as well as others who wish to remain anonymous.

Sincerely, 

Undersigned Students and Affiliates of Princeton University

Aditya Gandotra ’23

Kanishkh Kanodia ’23

Harshini Abbaraju ’22

Sophie Li ’21

Binita Gupta ’20

Nikhita Salgame ’21

Kamya Yadav ’21

Urvashi Uberoy ’20

Anecia Henry ’23

Sirad Hassan ’20

Jane Sul ’20

Sonika Bagchi ’23

Caton Yang ’20

Anna Yang ’21

Aishah Balogun ’23

Mahishan Gnanaseharan ’20

Ashira Shirali ’22

Akash Pattnaik ’20

Nancy Lu ’21

Amna Amin ’21

Greg Weaving ’22

Will Carpenter ’21

Arielle Rivera ’23

Shreyas Kumar ’21

Arya Kumar Goel ’20

Justin Tran ’20

Amina Sahibousidq ’20

Marissa Michaels ’22

Ashwin Mahadevan ’22

Soon Il Higashino ’20

Brennen Nishimura ’23

Anoushka Mariwala ’21

Eesha Agarwal ’23

Abhinav Agarwal ’23

Grace Xu ’22

Nathan Poland ’20

Yaashree Himatsingka ’23

Karthik Ramesh ’21

Hannah Wang ’21

Natalia Zorrilla ’23

Vibhaalakshmi Sivaraman ’17

Emily Dale ’23

Mohammad Moin Mir ’22

Khadijah Anwar ’22

Zoha Enver ’23

Harvin Sangha ’23

Nourhan Ibrahim ’20

Neha Anil Kumar ’21

Ethan Kahn ’21

Yu Jeong Lee ’22

Harshvardhan Babla ’21

Aparna Shankar ’21

Iman Lulla ’21

Conor Vance ’20

Jacquelyn Davila ’22

Jayson Badal ’22

Aditi Dhital ’20

Ziv Batscha ’22

Mashad Arora ’20

Sana Khan ’21

Cierra Moore ’21

Divyanshu Pachisia ’20

Tori Gorton ’21

Pulkit Singh ’20

Debby Park ’22

Malika Oak ’20

Thomas Earl ’23

Aneela Kanhai ’22

Bharat Govil ’22

Tomi Lawal ’20

Vaibhav Mehta ’23

Nalanda Sharadjaya ’21

Arjun Jagjivan ’23

Ananya Mittal ’20

Cai Markham ’21

Katherine Cappola ’23

Jona Mojados ’20

Siddarth Anand ’19

Eliot Chen ’20

Bhavani Srinivas ’20

Nafisa Ahmed ’22

Arul Gupta ’20

Rebecca Senatore ’20

Sophie Goldman ’23

Christian Hernández ’22

Rohin McIntosh ’21

Maryam Kamel ’23

Scott Overbey ’21

Mark Smith ’22

Mary Elizabeth Marquardt ’23

Grace Collins ’21

Nishaad Khedkar ’22

Maya Verma Mishra ’22

Samvida Venkatesh ’19

Jackson Vail ’21

Rakesh Potluri ’23

Joshua Spergel ’23

Hannah Faughnan ’23

MaryAnn Placheril ’21

Isra Thange ’22

Ayushi Sinha ’20

John Sledge ’23

Tanzina Islam ’21

Andrew Zacks ’23

Ananya Vinayak ’22

Preston Johnston ’21

Divya Cherian, Assistant Professor of History

Gargi Sadalgekar ’21

Linh Nguyen ’21

Seza Tunc ’23

Layla Varkey ’19

Emily Reinhold ’21

Maya Eashwaran ’21

Rimsha Malik ’21

Rebecca Han ’22

Sam Pathak ’23

Fumika Mizuno ’21

Armaan Valvi ’20

Justice Chibueze Chukwuma ’22

Shaffin Siddiqui ’22

Ben Dodge ’22

Rohan Shah ’20

Paulo Frazao ’20

Kennan Ewing ’20

Rooya Rahin ’23

Kavya Chaturvedi ’21

Chitra Parikh ’21

Abdelhamid Arbab ’23

Heavyn L. Jennings ’20

Zarnab Virk ’20

James White ’23

Hannah To ’22

Abdullah Ramadan ’22

David Friedman ’20

Yusuf Kocaman ’23

Abby Spare ’20

Alice McGuinness ’23

Madeleine Chong ’23

Gabrielle Sudilovsky ’22

Hifsa Chaudhry ’22

Kalyn Nix ’21

Leila Ullmann ’21

Nina Onyemeziem ’22

Aisha Tahir ’21

Rahul Saha ’22

Grace Chung ’23

Rohan Jinturkar ’23

Kathleen Song ’22

Melita Piercy ’20

Andrew Alexander ’23

James Grosz ’23

Preeti Iyer ’20

Bianca Chan ’22

Tanzila Morshed ’23

Mina Musthafa ’22

Zoya Shoaib ’20

Anika Khakoo ’22

Daniel Te ’21

Christina Im '22

Yousef Elzalabany ’20

Ahmed Farah ’22

Spencer Koonin ’23

Simone Downs ’20

Nick Jain ’21

Eric Periman ’22

Madison Spinelli ’21

Kai Torrens ’22

Maria Russo ’22

Ivy Wang ’23

Arnab Banerji ’19

Chesley Chan ’21

Timothy Ruszala ’20

Jane Mentzinger ’22

Nimrah Naseer ’23

Niranjana Bienkowska ’21

Jessica Chen ’22

Ananya Agustin Malhotra ’20

Joe Kawalec ’21

Shafaq Khan ’21

Pranav Rekapalli ’20

Erica Dugue ‘21

Dylan Shapiro ’23

Jaeyoon Cha ’21

Minjae Kim ’21

Alexander Laurenzi ’20

Risa Gelles-Watnick ’21

Grace Grady ’20

Christopher P. Leahy ’22

Jared W. Holeman ’21

Nick Callegari ’21

Jaren McKinnie ’21

Abigail Glickman ’23

Benjamin Huang ’20

Aemu Anteneh ’22

Oliver Whang ’21

Kayla Memis ’21

Nannette Beckley ’23

Diamond Acharya ’21

Manya Kapoor ’22

Anmoldeep Singh ’22

Franklyn Correa ’23

Dillion Gallagher ’23

Yousra Zerouali ’20

Emerson Thomas ’20

Aryan Bhasin ’22

Ayeda Hamed ’23

Rohan Jasani ’23

Anvay Grover ’20

Ellen Li ’22

Sharon Musa ’20

Brandon Callegari ’21

Scooter Liapin ’20

Max McGougan ’21

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