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Citizenship Amendment Act: Everything wrong with the protests

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If the Monsoon session of Parliament created history by scrapping the controversial Article 370 of the Indian Constitution, the winter session became known for another legislation:- the Citizenship Amendment Act.

The Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) grants citizenship to the persecuted religious minorities from Pakistan, Afghanistan and Bangladesh who had arrived in India before 31 December 2014. The Citizenship Act, 1955 requires any applicant who wants Indian citizenship to have resided in India for 11 of the previous 14 years. CAA relaxes this requirement for Hindus, Sikhs, Buddhists, Jains, Parsis, and Christians of the three Muslim nations from 11 years to 5 years,  This Act makes it easier for the non-Muslim immigrants from India’s three Muslim-majority neighbours:- Pakistan, Bangladesh and Afghanistan to become citizens of India.

A Message for the protestors

Article 19(1)(b) of the Indian Constitution gives all the citizens the right to assemble peacefully and without arms. While the peaceful protest is a Fundamental Right and the sign of a healthy democracy, in the ongoing protests against CAA, the protestors have been involved in the destruction of Railway property, burning of public transports, use of provocative religious slogans, the lynching of policemen on duty, and of course playing the victim card.

If people (specially Indians) are asked who is the most impactful protestor they know, most of them will answer Mahatma Gandhi. But how many Railway stations did he burn? How many times did he play the victim card? Did he approve stone peltings or lynching? The answer to these questions sums up everything that’s wrong with these protests.

Just like in most other cases, there are three kinds of people, those who support CAA, those who oppose it, and the third group which is yet to take sides. Those opposing the CAA are losing (if not already lost) the support of this third group, thanks to the actions of the protestors. My message for the protestors is:-

  • By using communal symbols and slogans, you can’t prove you are fighting for a secular India.
  • By disrespecting the rule of law, you can’t prove you are fighting to save the Constitution.

A question for the Government

One of the biggest red flags of CAA is not religious, but economic. Our country is already facing problems of overpopulation, unemployment and dearth of a skilled labour force. Is it economically feasible to incorporate the refugees when we are already overexploiting our resources? The most unfortunate thing is that few people seem to give a damn about it.

Instead of trying to prove that the CAA violates Article 14 or giving irrelevant opinions, I would like to ask the government:-

  • How will the government provide resources to the incoming refugees?
  • How will the government ensure the productive incorporation of the unskilled refugees?
  • How will the government ensure that accepting refugees does not further burden the economy?

The most unfortunate part is that people have prioritized issues of ideology over those of basic livelihood. This is not to say that identity-based issues are not important, but prioritizing these over actual economic concerns shows the level of awareness in our country where rationality and logic are secondary to ideologies and political agendas.

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