Sunday, 9 August 2020

Another feather in Modi’s cap

Updated: January 27, 2019 4:18 pm

Given the background that minorities, especially Hindus coming from Pakistan, Bangladesh and Afghanistan, are persecuted there, the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill was a necessity. For, is there any other nation they can look for help? Of course, no. Therefore, is it not India’s duty to provide shelter and refuge to these helpless people? Or should they be condemned to live out their entire lives as “illegal immigrants”. Besides, what exactly was the logic behind the Partition of India in 1947? Pakistan, an Islamic State, meant exclusively for the adherents of Islam, while India, meant to be the nation, where people practising all other faiths, would reside them. In fact, this Bill should have been enacted immediately after the Partition so as to provide citizenship and its attendant benefits to the millions of non-Muslims migrating to India. Instead, more than 71 years have been wasted in dilly-dallying. In this period of time, several generations have died, having spent their whole lives as “illegal immigrants”. The Bill is too little, too late. But it is intriguing that the so-called secular brigade puts the onus on the BJP and blames it for the Bill. What is shocking, to say the least, is that it accuses the Bill of being ‘anti-Muslim’. It is an internationally acknowledged fact that Pakistan, Bangladesh and Afghanistan are Muslim-majority nations. Not just majority but almost absolute majority with very thin percentages of other faiths. And it is also an internationally acknowledged fact that non-Muslims (Hindus, Sikhs, Christians, Buddhists, etc.) are persistently persecuted and hounded in these nations. In fact, all of this happens with the approval of the Muslim fanatics and with the tacit support of the State machinery. The non-Muslims have been subjected to riots, massacres, rapes and plunder on a regular basis. The medieval and bestial ‘blasphemy laws’ are invoked at the drop of a hat to harass and intimidate them. In spite of all this evidence, are we expected to believe that non-Muslims are being treated well?

It cannot be gainsaid that the relentless persecution of Hindus in Pakistan, Bangladesh and Afghanistan has become a matter of great concern for India. Hounded by Islamic fundamentalists in cahoots with the administration, the hapless Hindus have no options but to take shelter in India. More than 600 Hindus flocked to India in 2013 and took shelter at Bijwasan in Delhi to escape the atrocities at the hands of their perpetrators back home. Against this backdrop, the then Government of India must have forced Pakistan and Bangladesh to implement the Nehru-Liaquat Accord, failing which we should take Pakistan and Bangladesh to task by severing all diplomatic, trade and other ties with them. The irony of the situation can be summed up by what Muhammad Ali Jinnah, the first governor general of undivided Pakistan had said in his presidential address to the constituent assembly on the August 11, 1947: “You

are free; you are free to go to your temples, you are free to go to your mosques or to any other place or worship in this State of Pakistan. You may belong to any religion or caste or creed that has nothing to do with the business of the State. We are starting with this fundamental principle that we are all citizens and equal citizens of one State.” Against this backdrop, it is the duty of the government that all the minorities coming from Pakistan, Bangladesh and Afghanistan, due to religious persecution, must be given refugee status and then full Indian citizenship with all rights that any citizen of India has. Those who have sought visa extension should not be persecuted further by the authorities in India. Rather, they should be given BPL status so that they can at least survive, for, majority of them are living there in absolute poverty. As of now, these refuges are not allowed to open bank accounts, obtain driving licenses or start any business. They should have been given the rights to get education and earn livelihood freely. It is a travesty that such rights have already been given to the Tibetan refugees.

By Deepak Kumar Rath


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