Arab media has reported that Saudi Arabia deported a number of non-resident Indians (NRI) living in the Gulf state for protesting against the highly controversial register introduced by the far-right Hindu nationalist government of Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
Inspired by Shaheen Bagh Protests in India last year, where a group of mainly Muslim women organised a sit-in to deonstrate against the National Register of Citizens (NRC), a number of Indians living in Jeddah are said to have shown their solidarity by holding placards against the proposed registration bill.
The protest landed the NRIs in trouble. It’s reported that they were arrested for violating rules that prohibit any kind of assembly and protest and repatriated back to India.
Gulf countries have zero tolerance towards any kind of protest, demonstration, or gatherings. But the protesters, some of whom were young, are said to have been unaware of this basic rule. Many also got into trouble for posting support on social media.
When the Modi government introduced the NRC it sparked outrage. Many say the move was an attempt by the Hindu nationalist government to change the face of India. Amongst the inflammatory steps taken by Modi following his re-election in May 2019 was the push for new legislation, the Citizenship Amendment Bill (CAB). This controversial move, which critics say threatens to demote the status of the country’s 200 million Muslim citizens, sparked protests across the country.
In the Assam region of India almost two million people are said to have been excluded from the state’s National Register of Citizens (NRC).
Around the same time, in October 2019, Saudi Arabia and India extended their partnership especially on security matters after a new Strategic Partnership Council was agreed during a visit by Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman to New Delhi.