India’s Citizen Amendment Act-2019: Confusion, Concerns, Conflicts and Chaos

News and views on CAB

There are concerns, curiosity and
confusion among citizens on CAA (earlier CAB) and protests erupted at many
places and in universities across India. 

Here are few concerns to express what
is problematic there in CAA, NRC and in present situation:

Even if everything is fine with the CAA :

If everything was fine with the bill
and despite that there were protest against it in parliament, questions and
amendments sought for it, then why such a bill was made passed in a day
ignoring the dissent without giving it to parliamentary committee to seek
concerns from public? Why such emergency?  Was it such an emergency bill
or it was just a power show that we can do whatever with available majority? It
brings doubt upon intent.

Even if it was made passed, and when
protests erupted after that, why still govt. didn’t form any committee to
invite concerns and resolve/reply and still crushing the protest through police
and military? Any government, if feel itself responsible for citizens of its
country, should clear all doubts and should give time to citizens, civil
society, communities to remove all their misunderstanding and confusion.

People are much in doubt because of
track record of govt. in recent years, particularly in its misadventures like
demonstration, 370, NRC in Assam etc. that only pushed people to believe that
leaders in govt. justify only their own decisions and rule in autocratic style
while governance is all about being responsible for citizens.

Many chief ministers opposed the bill
and even those who voted in favor of bill like BJD and JD(U) have come on front
to oppose mixing NRC with this bill in implementation

 But, everything with the bill is not
right and here is how:

Discriminatory
Grounds

The Bill considers ‘Religious
persecution’ as a ground to provide citizenship to Non-Muslims who came from
Pakistan, Afghanistan and Bangladesh.

First of all, why only ‘Religious
persecution’ has been taken in consideration and persecutions due to other issues
like economic, social, political have been left from considering it as ground
is the big question and must be protested.

Moreover, within the Religious
persecution itself, why sectorial persecution within the religion, which is
very prevalent in communities like Hazara, Shias and Ahmedis have been left. It
is also unclear as to how Atheists, who do not believe in any religion have
been left out and which country is for them?

Why only Pakistan, Afghanistan and
Bangladesh are only countries included in amendment bill and why not other
countries is another big question. Hon’ble Home Ministers said in Upper House
of Indian parliament that boundary of Afghanistan was with us in pre-partition
time and Pakistan and Bangladesh were our part and that’s why these countries
are included. Unfortunately, this basis cannot be said as justified as
partition was happened 72 years ago, not recently and also that our border also
touched to Myanmar (then Burma) during pre-partition era and still touching
Nepal, Bhutan, Sri-Lanka and Maldives (Marine border) but why these countries
have not been included. Answers are unknown. While the fact that Tamils from
Sri-Lanka, Rohingyas from Myanmar are known for their migration due to
persecution.

Home Minister in Upper House clearly
said that we cannot offer all Muslims to come and to settle in our country.
This statement is problematic in terms that no one is asking him to do so, but
he must remember that why only Muslims have been left from this bill and why he
can offer everyone else to come except Muslims? Is there any solid ground for
that? Those who give logic that Hindus cannot go anywhere else must also ask to
minister that then why Buddhists, Parsis, Christians included as they can also
go to other countries and this country is not birth place of these religions as
well.

This bill doesn’t tell what would be
status of Tibetan refugees and Srilankan Tamils as they already are in India.  

What
International Laws state:

International laws are like guiding
principles and not abiding with states who are not signatory to it, however
under international relations, these are important principles for all states.
Here are only few such examples:

Convention related to status of refugees
(1951) and amended through 1967 protocol, clearly states (under its Article 1)
that ‘refugee is a persecuted person for race, religion, nationality,
membership of social group, political opinion…..’ and it clearly restricts
state (under Article 3) to discriminate against refugees on these basis and
‘same treatment with respect to public relief and assistance as it accorded to
state’s own citizens’. Though, India is not a signatory of 1951 Convention and
hence its not a legal obligation but it doesn’t lesser its moral obligation.   

 The
UN Committee on Elimination of Racial Discrimination states that ‘deprivation
of citizenship on the basis of race, color, decent, ethnic origin is a breach
of states’.

Recently, United States Commission on
International Religious Freedom criticized CAA.

Office of the United Nations High
Commissioner for Human Rights also criticized the act with ‘fundamentally
discriminatory in nature’.

United States House Committee also
questioned the bill.

Who
are illegal immigrants and how world looks them

Illegal immigrants are those who enter
in a country without any documentation and in violation of immigration law of
the country. However, progressive countries even avoid calling them as ‘illegal
immigrants’ considering the fact that persons are not illegal and hence they
should be termed as ‘undocumented immigrants’. Reasons of these illegal
crossings worldwide includes poverty, limited resources, conflicts and wars,
persecutions on various basis and in search of better and safer life. In recent
times, climate change also becoming a reason of such illegal crossings.

India, as a country with second highest
population may not carry more weight upon it through undocumented immigrants,
but to stop it, there should be a proper mechanism, with primarily as
responsive and honest border crossing mechanism but if someone entered in the
boundary, it should have been dealt not on religious basis.   

Against
the Constitutional Ethos and Against Spirit of Freedom Struggle

Our constitution guarantees equality
before law under its Article 14. Our citizenship articles also provides
provisions to grant citizenships to people as per already existed under
Citizenship Act, 1955.

India never adopted ‘religion’ as a ground
for granting citizenship and hence any change to this status would be an attack
upon ethos of equality and secularism. India belongs to its people and even in
its ancient days, welcomed people from all sides to come and grow together and
enhance its diversity. Providing refuge to anyone without discrimination was in
its value and culture. Even during modern history’s freedom struggle, people of
all religions and identities fought for India and names of Hindus, Mulsims,
Sikhs, Parsis and others can be easily seen on the walls of India Gate, in
Jalianwalan List and in list of freedom fighters and even during partition when
Muslim League demanded a separate nation for Muslims and Britishers approved
the same; millions of Muslims never left India as this was the land where
generations and generations of Hindus and Muslims and Sikhs and others born,
lived and died together. India, in spirit of its freedom struggle maintained
its secular character after Independence. 
     

Generating
suspicion, social dis-integrity and dis-harmony

Now provisions to grant citizenship on
religious grounds have initiated a new debate and has made ‘Muslims’ as a word
that is on denial. Though in CAB (now CAA), it is termed only for Muslims who
are in India from other countries. This very basis of separation is problematic
and inhumane and it also brings a feeling of exclusion among Muslims who are
citizens of India as to why other religions from other countries can be
accepted except Muslims when within India, all religions live and had lived
together and India doesn’t belong to any single religion.    

Exclusion
politics for Muslims on Hindutva Brandline  

This exclusion politics for Muslims is
broad basis among dissatisfaction for everyone who doesn’t accept the ideology
of Hindutva. The idea of India and even Hinduism always spoke about equality,
inclusivity and diversity while the ideology of Hindutva is attacking those
values. Also, the exclusion based on religious identity is a new and ‘expected’
in line with the extremist ideology where Muslims are looked with hate and
‘others’. The Assam NRC exercise brought out example of what can happen to even
Indian Muslims once NRC will be tabled as bill in Parliament and this
speculation is certainly not an ‘imaginary’ one, instead putting it in
parliament has been in pipeline of the present government and then together
with CAA+NRC may put millions of Muslims as illegal entrants.

Assam
NRC’s faultlines

NRC exercise in Assam brought some 19
Lacs people out of accepted list and hence these people considered as illegal
immigrants. Started with all passionate efforts on the suspicion that millions
of Bangladeshis have been settled in Assam and need to be deported, this
exercise brought a rough proportion of around 12 lacs Hindus and 7 lacs Muslims
and hence as a polarized vote bank based party, even state unit of BJP opposed
this result and pressurized to central leadership to bring Hindus out from this
hell created. Now, CAA may come as a remedy for them as then it will grant
citizenship amongst most of the 12 lacs Hindus while there would be nothing for
remained 7 lacs Muslims as they will be considered as illegal immigrants. This
is when ground reports available where it is probed that even in many among
these 7 lacs Muslims are from Hindi belt areas of Bihar and U.P. who with the
time got settled in Assam but they do not have any document to prove they are
Indian citizens. There are wide spread reports where even former Indian army
soldiers have been now put under detention centres as an illegal immigrant.
There are reports that Father made it in the list but daughter couldn’t ,Whole
family made it in list but mother couldn’t and many such stories where few
members of family declared illegal and have been put in detention centres. The
whole cumbersome exercise was a hell for poor, illiterate and downtrodden and
it didn’t consider right of blood or right of the soil as basis of citizenship.

As per recent statement in Loksabha, it
is informed that around 1000 detention centres being built in various districts
of Assam to put these illegal immigrants. It is sad to say that probably India
may become the only country in world that would put such a huge number of
people, based on their religious identity under such large numbers of detention
centres. This is infact, cruel, inhumane and against human rights; but it
doesn’t matter for present power because our Home Minister already stated that
‘We do not believe in western idea of human rights.’

But on the other hand, even this
possibility of granting citizenship to 12 lacs Hindus through CAA in this Assam
NRC exercise is not acceptable to native citizens of Assam because as per their
demands, they want to protect their indigenous culture from any outsider
irrespective of religion. Hence, NRC is nowhere a solution for even Assam and
instead created another problem (in addition to already existed refugee
problem) after CAA.

Though the bill exempts tribal areas of
Assam, Meghalaya and Tripura; but it has become a matter of concern of whole
Assam and other NE states. Also, the bill doesn’t include Arunachal Pradesh,
Mizoram and Nagaland as these states are under Inner Line Permit provision, but
to address concern of Manipur, government also added ILP in Manipur too
recently.      

Unproved
Data and Unclear Analysis and Unclear Future

Data provided in support of CAB is
nothing. Yes, no data provided as Government doesn’t have any authenticate data
regarding how many people from these countries have come and among them how is
the religion-wise divison.

Government also has no process to check
if the identity of the person came from another country is an accurate one and
not based on fake documents. There is no such agency (neither can be) to check
this accuracy of identity as scholars argue that India doesn’t have any such
agency except R&AW who deals with intelligence gathering from other
countries.

Government has no data as to how many
people will get benefitted from this bill. Certainly, crores of people not
going to be and neither crores of people have come to India from these
countries. Then why such a haste made and why one religion made left is the
question and doubts the integrity of government.

There is no set process or basis to
check whether even non-Muslims who came are on the ground of ‘Religious Persecution’
and no Muslim who came faced any persecution.

There is no clarity as to how earlier
existed Citizenship Act (1955) could not provide citizenship or what attributes
it was lacked in providing citizenship to people including religiously
persecuted persons and that how many such people applied for such citizenship
earlier as it is clear that earlier existed act didn’t behave on religious
grounds.  

There is no agreement of Government of
India with respective governments of Afghanistan, Pakistan and Bangladesh
regarding return of these ‘illegal’ Muslims who will be identified, neither any
process that will prove them as citizens of these countries and hence millions
of lives, particularly of Muslims will remain freeze in uncertainty and after
NRC, their future is unknown.

If refugee or outsiders migrants are
still such a big problem for India, there should be proper study for it
regarding the disadvantages and resources spent on such outsiders to actually
address its root cause and through sealing the still porous borders, undecided
disputed areas for any such entry from any border.       

Suffering for common people
and a future of ‘Statelessness’ for Muslims

To think that CAA with NRC will only be
a problem for Muslims is not the right way, though certainly Muslims will be
final sufferers but during the process (that will definitely take few years to
complete and that also with errors), common people of all religions will be
required to prove their citizenship where Aadhar and PAN and Passport, DL will
not be considered as valid documents to prove citizenship and thus long queues,
much confusion and chaos will be surfaced and everyone will be running to
justify their citizenship with most sufferers as poor, downtrodden and
illiterates. Even if this NRC will be ever completed, Muslims will be declared
out as illegal and will be put in detention centres with unknown future and
treatment, all others may get citizenship through CAA and hence, the CAA will
remain an Anti-Muslim bill which will include Muslims in general irrespective of
which country they belong at the time of their stay in this land, we call
India.   

This is like making Muslims feel a
second class citizens of this country and after the CAA and NRC, If Muslims
will be singled out, this will be state of ‘Statelessness’ for which
international community remains concerned and everyone should be and this state
is against the principle of elimination of racial discrimination. This is how
many Jews were made stateless and faced holocaust through Nuremburg Citizenship
Law by Germany.

Illegal
immigration is not one sided

Though it is difficult to distinguish
and finding actual victims of religious persecutions, the illegal immigration
is not one sided even in our country. Though there is probably no official
study on numbers of such immigrants in India, but in Bangladesh, there may be
around 1.2 million Indians who are living illegally as per few estimates.

India is one among the leading receiver
of remittances (money sent to India by NRIs) and Bangladesh is fifth among
nations who sent highest remittances to India. 
 

India is not only country where people
migrate illegally in to. People, in general move towards countries with better
future for life and being a comparatively progressive country, people from few
neighboring countries try to enter in India. Many Indians have also migrated
illegally in to many countries in last many years and many amongst them also
got settled in foreign countries with the time. Even in India’s neighbor
countries, illegal migration happened from other countries but they didn’t come
out with any such provision/act like CAA.

A myth regarding flow of reducing
minority population has been made where data provided were used of 1941 census
and hence baseless. In fact, through other sources, it is estimated that
minority population in Pakistan (West Pakistan at the time of partition) remain
almost stable and even increased with the time since partition. While in
Bangladesh (East Pakistan at the time of partition), many Muslims and
Non-Muslims migrated and entered in India due to persecution based on religion
as well as due to better life prospects. Hence, only religious persecution cannot
be termed as the sole reason of any reduction in minority population in these
countries.      

Is
everything bad with CAA?

No, in fact, no one is against grant of
citizenship to Hindus, Muslims, Parsis, Buddhists, Christians and Sikhs as
people including those who are protesting advocate citizenship to these
communities. Concern is only regarding singled out Muslim community. Hence protest
should not be considered as protest against grant of citizenship, instead, it
is against the inequality, against religion-based citizenship and against
possible persecution of Muslims in India. 

Is
CAA and NRC are separate things?

Legally said yes at some extent, but
they are linked closely and after implementation, they will affect heavily on Muslims.
Moreover, we must know that NRC is mandatory under CA, 1955 through an
amendment in year 2003-04 and hence cannot be said as completely separate. There
is much possibility that NRC will be implemented nationwide and this will be
termed as a sixteen year old requirement with existed amendment of Citizenship
Act, 2003.    

For
or Against National Security?

Many who advocating the bill are
favoring it on religious grounds and have notion as Bangladeshi Muslims as
security threat without knowing any actual figures. On the other hand, India’s
own intelligence agency R&AW expressed concern with the bill that it can be
used by foreign agencies to help infiltrate legally in India.

Cost
Effective and Need of Hour?

GDP is down, there are already reports
that unemployment is at its peak, industries are facing shut downs and surely
the need of hours should be addressing most immediate problems for common
public good.

Beneficiaries are not counted as per a
Loksabha statement by External Affairs Ministry, Even India’s own missions
don’t have any reliable data about how many Indians staying and working
illegally in foreign countries

As per reports telecasted in NDTV, Rs.
1220 Crore spent in Assam for NRC on 3.06 Cr population that brings Rs. 399/-
per person. Hence, with 137 Cr population, it will be Rs. 54,663 Cr which
itself is a big amount for a country which needs to address more immediate
problems.

Earlier exercises like of making Voter
ID cards, compulsory UIDs, Ration cards had already been actions where errors
are still unresolved. NRC in Assam took many years to complete and still there
are so many errors in the same. All such past experiences only indicates that
no nationwide exercise of every citizen’s identity is full proof or perfect and
no such exercise had been ever completed without errors. Now in these cases of
CAA (where only Non-Muslim migrants will provide documents for getting citizenship)
and NRC (where every citizen will have to prove their citizenship through
documents), exercise will definitely not be error free again, but the impact of
error in these cases will affect heavily as a person may be declared as
non-citizen or illegal immigrant.    

Generating
Protest or Uprising or New Codes for Human Rights Violations?

And at last, even if everything stated
above is far-fetched and not the intention of government and people protesting
including myself are actually confused, misunderstood and mislead youths, even
Large number of people are on streets to protest this disputed act, but
administration on direction of government terming it and taking it only as law
and order problem despite the fact that these protests are not controlled by any
leader, any ideology or organization and hence should be seen as uprising.

Government on the other hand is only
handling it through applying force and trying to crush it by all ways.
Paramilitary forces have been deployed in civilian areas. Internet is shut down
in many parts of country including in National capital and hence curtailing
freedom of speech and expression is what government is thinking about. Hundreds
of people have been detained, permissions to hold rallies and peaceful marches
have been denied and states like Uttar Pradesh announced imposing section 144
in whole state, which is completely against violations of human rights and
rights of peaceful assembly. 

At
Last

And at last, even if everything stated
above is far-fetched and not the intention of government and people protesting
including myself are actually confused, misunderstood and mislead youths, even
then also, my government should act in accountable and responsible ways to
remove these suspicions and to address doubts, to clear confusions and to
answer the questions as there are no reasons to not doing this except that all
above are possibilities and my constitution will be smashed.

By:

Ravi Nitesh

Human Rights Activist

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