According to this act, minorities persecuted on the basis of religion such as Hindus, Sikhs, Christians, Buddhists, Jains, and Parsis in Pakistan, Afghanistan, and Bangladesh can avail Indian citizenship. Basically, in a Secular India, this act made a person’s surname crucial to decide his citizenship.
In this article, we won’t talk on the theory of this act (plenty of data available on that. We will talk about its consequences. We’ll find out whether it is constitutional or not, whether it is flawed or- well that has to be the only option here…as we shall see!
1. Assam Protests
In November 2014, PM Modi assured the people of Assam that he will identify the illegal migrants from Bangladesh living in Assam and will send them back. Assam rejoiced in this commitment as it has been constantly protesting and demanding protection of its indigenous tribes and forest areas from exploitation by overpopulation.
Not just Assam but other north-eastern states are the most prominent victims of illegal immigration from Bangladesh and this decision was much needed. More than five years later, the government forgot all about its promises in Assam (well, I am not even surprised anymore!). With this bill, the government in fact did the exact opposite of what it claimed- welcoming the illegal immigrants in the country.
It was when the Supreme Court intervened that the process of NRC (National Register of Citizens) was updated which cost the state Rs.1220-cr. Finally when about 40 Lakh illegal immigrants were identified in the first list, about 20 Lakh turned out to be Hindus- and the state provided them a legal way to become citizens of the country.
This U-turn by the government angered Assam. Police came readily for the rescue- lathi-charge imposed, water tank deployed. Some 3 anti-CAA protesters died in December in Assam as reported by many news media. Center in fact withdrew paramilitary forces from Kashmir and deployed them in Assam (possibly to “restore normalcy” there!). Then there was an Internet shutdown enforced in Assam while the Prime Minister tweets to inform the people of Assam that ‘All is Well!’.
2. Internet Shutdowns
Speaking of Internet Shutdowns, it is also a lesser known fact that India (ironically the largest democracy in the world) is also the capital of Internet shutdowns. Simply speaking, dissent can not be deleted but it surely can be clamped down. In 2018, out of the total internet shutdowns in the world, 67% were reported in India.
By December 14, 2019- India had already observed about 89 internet blackouts with Kashmir observing the longest ever shutdown and is still not able to access 4G connectivity. From disputed lands of Kashmir and Assam, such internet shutdowns reached the capital state- shrinking the last bit of hope for a democratic country. Looks like our government is like that possessive parent who cuts the wifi cable, the first thing after a turmoil in the house.
3. Violation of Article 14
Under this article, our constitution ensures equal opportunity to all persons within the territory of India regardless of their religion. But CAB provides citizenship to all those illegal immigrants belonging to the given 6 communities, but not to any person having faith other than these; know who it is!? So basically, the government planned to authorize your AADHAR on the basis of your religion. Wonder what happened to “Sabka Sath, Sabka Vikas”?!
4. Religious Persecution in India
According to our government, this bill is brought for these six communities only because Pakistan, Afghanistan and Bangladesh are predominantly Islamic states and these communities suffer persecution because of their faith. Agreed.
So let’s say that our government is very sensitive about religious persecution- so sensitive that the next Nobel is to be awarded to our leaders! So then what happened in the case of Rohingyas who were thrusted out of Myanmar?
India is not so guiltless herself… In the last five years, India has seen at least one religious hate crime on an average every week. According to a survey by Open Doors, India is the 10th most dangerous country for Christians in the world. Indian Cricket team captain Virat Kohli doesn’t make centuries with the average India observes hate crimes!
5. Resemblance To Nazism
Frankly speaking, BJP to history is the same as what Savarkar to heroism is, but here BJP scored full marks in history- not in our secular history but in the history of Nazi Germany. In Nazi Germany, the authorities brought Nuremberg laws and Reich citizenship law to deprive Jews of their citizenship. With this citizenship bill, India is trying to exclude persecuted Muslims from the citizenship criteria. Looks like we are not following the footprints of our peace-loving Mahatma, but of a fascist tyrant from Germany!
6. NRC But At What Cost?
Our economy is already in shambles since demonetisation; whatever money was left after statue, temple and party advertisement, is being spent in buying media; GDP is worse than your 12th percentage, then to accomodate any hike in population- government will either have to impose cow tax or increase college fees again. Nationwide NRC as Home Minister claims seems unlikely and impossible.
In Assam which has a population of merely 3 crores, it took 10 years to complete and Rs.1220 crores to process the NRC- if the same has to be done with the entire population of more than 120 crores, then an estimated amount of Rs.50000 crores will be spent in no time!
7. Where Are The Resources?
Let’s say that government somehow manages to conduct a pan-India NRC; even so how are we going to provide for the refugees.. when our own are worse than Pakistan in terms of Hunger Index, behind Bangladesh in Health infrastructure and far below Bhutan, Palestine, and Kenya in terms of percentage of GDP spent in education?
8. Detention Centers
Indians are flexible by nature so let’s say we adjust the increase in population somehow but what will happen to those who are kept out of NRC and are no more Indian citizens?
This process in itself is very tedious. If you are kept out of NRC, then you are allowed to file a case to prove your citizenship. So with the process of NRC,the number of such lawsuits will surge and our over-strained judiciary will suffer like a migraine patient made to listen to loud pop music.
If you lose the case then, you will land up in detention centers. Reports show that people currently living in such detention centers are constantly suffering both physically and mentally. When did the government ever care for mental health anyways?
We will also not be told that Bangladesh has already refused to take back any illegal migrants, and why would they when India has herself refused to accept her immigrants from the United Kingdom.
9. Loopholes In NRC
NRC can declare an Indian citizen foreigner on the basis of a minor spelling error. Amnesty International has described the process as “shoddy and lackadaisical”. Well, by the time Indians would understand these words by Amnesty International, Amit Shah would pass three more bills!
Shakespeare said, “What’s in the name?” and we finally have the answer- citizenship!
Well, the biggest loophole in this entire process is CAA itself that will undo half of the work done by NRC by providing citizenship to persons belonging to the given six communities while it is not clear what will happen to the rest- whether they will be deported, kept in detention centers for the rest of their lives; the uncertainty prevails.
Honestly speaking, even the government doesn’t concern itself with these loopholes as all this is basically a matter of distraction, an issue to create divide in the country and continue their vote-bank politics. First, it was the temple; now, it is this bill.
10. Is It Against Our Ideals?
Our final question is whether this act is against the ideology of our freedom fighters and our forefathers. In his famous speech in Chicago, Swami Vivekanand said, “ I am proud to belong to a nation which has sheltered the persecuted and the refugees of all religions and all nations of the earth.”
Now, does the government care about what Swami Vivekanad, Gandhi, Sardar Patel, Ambedkar would’ve said about this bill, whether our forefathers had been proud or disappointed with it? Government is like Salmaan Khan, it can come to power but not to its senses.
Secularism in today’s India is more insecure than women. This bill raises several questions on the soul of our constitution; the major dilemma is that if this bill is to be implemented then merely some 30,000 refugees living in India would be instantly benefitted, so what was government’s real intentions towards such controversial bill that will impact such small population positively but the entire population in a much more negative sense?!