CAB or the Citizenship Amendment Bill, now Act, having been passed by the Parliament was always a thorny issue for certain sections in the country, not because it is fundamentally wrong but because it ruffles too many feathers. It sets right what was promised by our leaders after Independence over the years.
What is this Bill, now Act which has provoked such violent protests from Muslims?
CAB deals with granting citizenship to Persecuted Religious Minorities in the Islamic Countries of Pakistan, Bangladesh and Afghanistan. These minorities consist of Hindus, Sikhs, Christians, Jains, Buddhists & Parsis. All those illegal immigrants belonging to these who have entered India prior to 31 December 2014 will be made naturalised citizens of India by speeding the process, ie., these illegal immigrants will be eligible for citizenship after having spent six years in India instead of the earlier 12 years stipulated in the Citizenship Act,1955.
Fears and Objections
Fundamentally, the objections are raised on the criteria which leaves out Muslims, not realising that the language of the Bill makes it amply clear that the amendment is meant for the persecuted minorities in these countries not everyone. The persecuted Muslims from these countries can apply for asylum and subsequent citizenship in due process. The criticism based on Art 14 does not hold ground on basis of reasonable classification, which the government has clarified as favouring the persecuted minorities, leaving out the majority in those countries. The Bill, now Act is absolutely clear on all aspects, it is not a prospective legislation but a retrospective which grants citizenship to people who have entered India prior to 31 December 2014, it doesn’t hold water for any future immigrants either, besides, it doesn’t discriminate against the Muslims in India in whatsoever manner. Yet, it is made out as anti Muslims, pro Hindu and anti Secular. It also stands judicial scrutiny in the highest Court of the Land, the Supreme Court.
The protests and the unrest which followed the passing of the Bill in the Parliament has definitely taken the public and the government by surprise. The government did anticipate protests in the North East, especially in Assam which will face the maximum burden of the naturalisation of the immigrants. The protests in Assam began soon after , became violent for a very short period but soon subsided as the fine print of the Act came in to the public domain. PM had clarified the matter which saw some respite from the protests in Assam and North East has been relatively quiet.
What has taken and shaken the government is the violence which has erupted in Bengal, Delhi and the protests in the almost all major cities by Muslims. The nature of protests are blurring lines of civil rights and taking religious colour.
Muslims in almost all parts of India came out in huge numbers, huge is such a misnomer, the protests have been gigantic in scale, violent, trying to show solidarity with Muslims who are not even in India or trying to gain citizenship in India. It is no brainer that these protests are nothing but muscle flexing by the Muslims in India. Imagine, Hindus or any minorities doing the same in Pakistan, Bangladesh or Afghanistan, it is impossible to even imagine such a scenario. The attacks on passengers in trains plying through Bengal, the destruction of public property are nothing but means of intimidation by Muslim mobs. Such intimidation is not limited to Bengal, it is being replicated wherever Muslims are in some numbers. Kerala, parts of Assam, UP, Bihar and many other places. Even as it is being written, huge violent protests are ongoing in Mau, Lucknow in UP, Hyderabad, Delhi, Jadhavpur and other universities are protesting against the CAA, against the police action at Jamia in Delhi after the students resorted to stone pelting, burned public transport in Jamia area.
The protests are being manufactured by vested political and religious interests. The fear of NRC is evoked to fuel further and future fires by the same interests. There is a humanitarian angle to the entire exercise of granting naturalised citizenship to the persecuted minorities of the countries in question. There is well documented cases of atrocities, brutalities and sub human life endured by these migrants, the majority of whom are Hindus, who have a natural right to citizenship in India as their Spiritual Homeland. Besides, it also fulfils the mandate of the Partition and the division of India on basis of religion. Gandhi had categorically said that any Hindu or Sikh who wants to come to India has all the Rights to do so and should have the same rights as Hindus and Sikhs here.
But unfortunately, politics overtook human considerations, the Hindus and Sikhs were forgotten. This government has sped the process and nothing else.
The protests are reflection of the failure of the opposition in the electoral politics and has found that protests against legitimate parliamentary actions to disrupt the government is easier done than winning elections. Opposition is stoking fears of the Muslims by painting the government as blatantly anti Muslim, it has raised the spectre of NRC, which as announced by the Home Minister, will follow the CAA.
Interestingly CAA, which has no bearing on any Indian citizen, has been so effective a tool in the hands of opposition, it will not let it go easily till it is milked to the maximum. Meanwhile, the PM has tried to douse the fires by refuting any immediate plan of a nation wide NRC but opposition and other groups have latched on to the statement of Home Minister in the Parliament on proposed NRC.
The protests are no longer about CAA or NRC anymore, it’s about Muslims flexing their political and ideological muscles and trying to frighten the majority population by their wanton acts of violence. The anti CAA protests are now nothing but communal in colour, burning posters of Hindu Gods and Goddesses is the favourite form of protests. Abusing, anything sacred to Hindus is the highlight of these protests now. Hindu shops, establishments, businesses were targeted by the Muslim mobs at most of the places. These protests fuelled by opposition, Islamic groups, Left Liberals, certain NGOs are stridently anti Hindu and gaining colours as being anti national in garb of protests.
The government will do well to implement the CAA at the earliest and pave way for a nation wide NRC to identify and deport immigrants who have entered illegally over the last 70 decades. The fact that this exercise has frightened the vested interests of the forces inimical to the nation, government must steam roll the NRC and bring this entire exercise to its logical conclusion.