The most controversial and debated, the Citizenship Amendment Bill recently became an act under the Modi government, as it was passed by the parliament on 11th December 2019.
This Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) of 2019 is an amendment to the Citizenship Amendment Act of 1955. It seeks to provide a gateway for Indian citizenship to the people belonging to the “minority religions” of three countries, namely Pakistan, Afghanistan and Bangladesh. People who follow any of the religions as Jainism, Parsi, Hinduism, Buddhism, Sikhism or Christianity and have persecuted from these three nations before 31st December 2014 would be granted citizenship. For the first time under the Indian law, the act uses ‘religion’ as the criterion for providing citizenship to the people, as the law discriminates against the Muslim minorities.
There has been nationwide outrage since it became an act, not just for opposing CAA, but what has been promised by the ruling government and would be followed by the CAA, that is the enactment of the nationwide National Registration of Citizens (NRC), which is to be implemented soon throughout the country. This had been promised by the Hindu Nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party in their previous election manifestos.
The home minister, Amit Shah has promised in the parliament that there would be national registration of citizens which is an exercise for registering people as Indian citizens. In this, the citizens are required to prove through the documents that their or the family’s residency is in India.
This exercise had been implemented in Assam earlier which clearly showed how it had terrified its people as they don’t have the documents and if they did show up some documents their fate had been completely up to officials of foreigner tribunals to either accept or reject over if doubts further raised.
The combination of NRC and CAA is extremely dangerous for cultural and economic aspects and also the poisons country socially. There is no clear instruction as to which documents are required for NRC, however the combination clearly spares all religions followers of the country, expect the Muslims as CAA eventually open its door in providing the Indian citizenship to all the religions but doesn’t provide to the Muslims.
Apart from NRC + CAA being of great advantage for all persecuted religious minorities not only separates people on the basis of religion but also devastates the unique social identity of India. According to the chief minister of Delhi, Mr. Arvind Kejriwal, 70% of the people do not have the required documents for proving their citizenship. This move would eventually shatter millions of people and render them homeless, as had been the case in Assam, where people were labeled as illegal immigrants and had been sent to the detention centers. The worst sufferers were the migrant people, transgender people, and women. They were eventually also strapped away from their right to vote.
Looking at the economic aspects of NRC, it would clearly prove this move to be of a huge economic crisis. Let’s take an example of Assam, which holds less than 3% of the country’s total population, had cost more than Rs 1,200 crore for the government to implement NRC in the state. The whole nationwide NRC will cost a lot for the Indian government when already there is ongoing income crisis, unemployment rates are severely high and GDP is as high 4% already. Apart from these critical points, there have been other problems which would also impact the functioning of industries as there are many migrants and casual workers, performing in these industries who do not have any documentation, and hence would not be able to prove themselves as the citizens of this country, ultimately leading to the downfall of industries and therefore the economic growth of the nation would be at a stake. NRC would seriously impact industries like real estate, tanning construction, etc.
A large no. of people would be declared as ‘illegal immigrants’ because they do not possess the right documents and hence would be snatched away off their basic rights.
Besides these, what also needs to be addressed is the outrage of Assamese people. Since the bill has been passed in the Lok Sabha, the north-east people have hit the ceiling. The protesters from the entire north-east have taken up to the streets for opposing the citizenship amendment bill. These people are not protesting as the act discriminates against the Muslims, but they have a different justified issue that is to protect the cultural and ethnic identity of their state. The North-East people fear that the influx of lakhs of Hindus from Bangladesh would hinder their economy and cultural identity as almost the entire influx of immigrants happens through the Assam border, which is of more than 50 lakhs till date. It is estimated that if even 10% people get citizenship, the entire demography of the state will change and the Assamese will become a minority in their own state. A similar case has happened in Tripura where the native people are themselves the minority there due to the influx of immigrants.
Narendra Modi, the prime minister of India, while addressing a rally recently in Delhi’s Ramlila Maidan, recently said that there has been no discussion about the NRC in the parliament. He blamed that the congress party and urban naxals for ‘spreading lies’ about the Nationwide Register of Citizens. However, there are sharp proves contradicting the statement as the home minister has clearly stated in the parliament and in the election rallies, at least seven times that there would be nationwide NRC implemented soon and this would be completed latest by 2024. The other contradicting statement made by him was that there are no detention centers in the nation. However, two days later a report came of a detention center been built up fully in Karnataka. There are also detention centers in Delhi, Goa and a huge detention Centre is been built in the Goalpara district of Assam, according to the economic times.
These reports clearly state what the BJP government has in store for the citizens of India and how it is a threat to the nation. The students and other protesters have taken upon the streets to defend against the BJP ruled agenda of Hindutva and to preserve their own cultural identity.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR: This article is written by Rashmi Jain, our intern.