The opponents to CAA are either oblivious of the circumstances leading to CAA or the NRC or NPR construct or deliberately ignoring it, for their own self interested takes. The ‘leaders’ may have their agendas. It means a lot for them to stay in the polity and ‘lead’. It also means a lot to the Lutyen’s and Khan Market Log to beat Modi 2.0 with. Of course, the daily dose of ideological food fights brought into our drawing rooms are nothing more than cacophonous shouting matches, with little sense and substance. How many have cared to read where it all began, where it has come to and where it is now perched and where it needs to go. Does anyone care to seriously and sincerely try and understand the critical issues which matter to India, at its core, as a nation, its unity and integrity and internal and external security implications. CAA is convenient red meat for both sides and We The People who matter are caught in the middle of the muddle.
Read the 2014 verdict of the top court,
“It will be seen that, in the present case, the petitioners in the various writ petitions represent an entire people – the tribal and non- tribal population of the State of Assam. In their petition, they have raised a plea that the sovereignty and integrity of India is itself at stake as a massive influx of illegal migrants from a neighboring country has affected this core Constitutional value. That, in fact, it has been held in Sonowal’s case that such an influx is “external aggression” within the meaning of Article 355 of the Constitution of India, and that the Central Government has done precious little to stem this tide thereby resulting in a violation of Article 355. As a result of this huge influx, periodic clashes have been taking place between the citizens of India and these migrants resulting into loss of life and property, sounding in a violation of Articles 21 and 29 of the Constitution of the Assamese people as a whole. Not only is there an assault on the life of the citizenry of the State of Assam but there is an assault on their way of life as well. The culture of an entire people is being eroded in such a way that they will ultimately be swamped by persons who have no right to continue to live in this country. The petitioners have also argued that this Hon’ble Court in Sonowal’s case has specifically held in para 79 thereof that Bangladeshi nationals who have illegally crossed the border and have trespassed into Assam or are living in other parts of the country have no legal right of any kind to remain in India and are liable to be deported. They have also raised a fervent plea that Article 14 also continues to be violated as Section 6A (3) to (5) are not time bound but are ongoing.”
The affidavit dt.18th July.2000 sworn to by a responsible official- Director, Ministry of Home Affairs, admitted,
“It is difficult to make a realistic estimate of the number of illegal immigrants from Bangladesh because they enter surreptitiously and are able to mingle easily with the local population due to ethnic and linguistic similarities. The demographic composition in the districts bordering Bangladesh has altered with the illegal immigration from Bangladesh. The districts of Assam and West Bengal bordering Bangladesh have recorded growth of population higher than the national average. The States of Meghalaya, Mizoram and Tripura have also recorded high rates of population growth. Illegal immigrants from Bangladesh have also been using West Bengal as a corridor to migrate to other parts of the country. The large-scale influx of illegal Bangladesh immigrants has led to large tracts of sensitive”
Seriously concerned with the ground reality on the huge influx of illegal immigrants, literally morphing the demographic status and cultural ethos and moorings in which the Indian citizens were steeped in, as civilisational construct, harking back to thousands of years, the Supreme Court issued specific observations, upon concluding,
“It will be seen that the number of tribunals set up is abysmally low resulting in an abysmally low number of decisions by these tribunals. What is interesting to know is that whereas almost 1,50,000 persons were deported between 1961 to 1965 under The Immigrants (Expulsion of Assam) Act, 1950, the number of deportations from 1985 till date is stated to be a mere 2,000 odd. Even these deportees are mostly if not all “push backs” which results in the same deportees coming back post deportation from a border which is completely porous.
It will be seen that the Assam portion of the border with Bangladesh is 267 Kms. Out of which 44 Kms. are riverine. We are given to understand that the entire border between India and Bangladesh is roughly 4000 Kms. The White Paper shows that large portions of the border with Assam are yet to be fenced with double coil wire fencing, making the border an easy place to cross. Also, we are given to understand that most parts of the border with West Bengal and other North-Eastern States are also porous and very easy to cross.
We are at loss to understand why 67 years after independence the Eastern border is left porous. We have been reliably informed that the entire Western border with Pakistan being 3300 Kms. long, is not only properly fenced but properly manned as well and is not porous at any point.
In the light of the above, we have considered the necessity of issuing appropriate directions to the Union of India and the State of Assam to ensure that effective steps are taken to prevent illegal access to the country from Bangladesh; to detect foreigners belonging to the stream of 1.1.1966 to 24.3.1971 so as to give effect to the provisions of Section 6(3) & (4) of the Citizenship Act and to detect and deport all illegal migrants who have come to the State of Assam after 25.3.1971. Before issuing any such directions, we had thought it proper to require the Union as well as the State of Assam to state, on affidavits, their respective stands in the matter and also their suggestions, if any. Both the Union as well as the State of Assam have responded by filing affidavits sworn by duly authorized officials. We have taken note of the contents of the said affidavits which disclose that both the Union and the State are broadly in agreement in respect of the steps that are required to be taken as well as the action taken till date and further the measures that are required to be taken in the future”
A host of directions were issued on border fencing, identification of illegal immigrants, pursuit of proceedings against them et al. Why add to the length of this piece with those logistics? And then the apex court did not close the writ petition. They directed its listing in the last week of March, 2015 to monitor the progress. Well, well, well, we are in March, 2020, five years down the line, and what progress have we made on the front of at least identifying the crores of illegal immigrants, even if we cannot deport them lock, stock and barrel, as even Lt.Gen. S K Sinha and Law Commission of India, candidly conceded. Zilch. Zero. Cipher. Poojyam. Soonyam.
Instead, India is on agitation mode over CAA, based on the false constructs that it was intended to discitizenise the minorities on religious premises. In the meanwhile, the illegal immigrants are being provided a safe passage making a mockery of all the recorded facts, figures and evidences, on the impact, the cross border infiltration were having on not on the border States alone, but now gone beyond to any and every other State, as the Law Commission of India report, so excruciatingly records and urged action with suggested solutions as well, Did anyone care? Does anyone care? Sorry, we are too busy exercising our right to agitate that we the citizens may well be losing our rights as citizens founded upon our Constitution for us as We The People.
(Narasimhan Vijayaraghavan- Author is practising advocate in the Madras High Court)