Thursday, 2 April 2020

CAA: why its opposition?

By Sanjeev Sirohi
Updated: December 24, 2019 4:04 pm

“To protest is the democratic right of the people of India. No one can stop us from doing so. However, it is important that it is controlled. Keeping our emotions in control is the most important part.”-  Shahi Imam of Jama Masjid Syed Ahmed Bukhari

No doubt, Syed Ahmed Bukhari has rightly called on the people of the country to exercise restraint and keep their emotions under control while demonstrating. Even those who are protesting against CAA have the right to protest peacefully but not the right to hold the nation to ransom! He also very rightly urged the people, including the youth, to not be provoked by nefarious elements.

He also explained the difference between the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) and the National Register of Citizens (NRC), saying they are two different things. We all saw in different news channels that many people who were protesting did not had even the elementary knowledge of CAA but were protesting vehemently just on the provocation of leaders from different political parties! This is what I find most hurting that some parties are trying to fish in troubled waters and make huge political capital from it without caring a damn for the disastrous consequence it would have on the unity and integrity of our country!

It is heartening to note that Syed Ahmed Bukhari has sought to allay all the unfounded fears of Muslims by reiterating what Amit Shah who is Union Home Minister and Narendra Modi who is Prime Minister have been repeatedly saying that, “The CAA is for those people who came to India from Pakistan, Afghanistan and Bangladesh before December 31, 2014. They will be granted citizenship and it will not affect the Muslims living in India. The Muslim refugees who came to India from Pakistan, Afghanistan and Bangladesh will not get Indian citizenship. It has nothing to do with the Muslims living in India.” Bukhari further clarified that, “While the CAA has become a law, NRC has been only announced. It has not become a law yet.” I am sure that what Bukhari has said will help remove the misgivings among Muslims about CAA and calm the huge tension which had cropped up after few leaders incited them by spreading wrong rumours about CAA!

Needless to say, Bukhari’s comments are very significant as it came in the backdrop of anti-CAA protests which turned violent in northeast Delhi’s Seelampur area, forcing the police to use tear gas shells to disperse the protesters, who torched two buses. The police also stopped vehicular movement on the road, which connects Seelampur with Jafrabad, due to demonstration. The protest in Seelampur came days after clashed between police and protesters in Jamia  Millia Islamia over the citizenship law.

To be sure, the Citizenship (Amendment) Act 2019 seeks to primarily amend the definition of illegal immigrant for Hindu, Sikh, Parsi, Buddhist and Christian immigrants from Pakistan, Afghanistan and Bangladesh, who have lived in India without documentation. It must be understood that the CAA grants citizenship to non-Muslims of Pakistan, Afghanistan and Bangladesh who fled religious persecution and arrived in India before December 31, 2014. They will be granted fast track Indian citizenship in six years. So far 12 years of residence has been the standard eligibility requirement for naturalisation.

It must be borne in mind that in the aftermath of most unfortunate partition on the “most stupid” and “most senseless” ground of religion as insisted by Muslim League and Mohammad Ali Jinnah and the horrifying communal riots that followed, Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru of India and Prime Minister Liaquat Ali Khan of Pakistan signed a treaty, also known as the Delhi Agreement, on security and rights of minorities in their respective countries. India had constitutional guarantees for rights of minorities and Pakistan had a similar provision in the Objectives Resolution adopted by its Constituent Assembly. Amit Shah claims strongly that India has kept its end of the bargain while Pakistan openly mocked at it by ensuring that Hindus and Sikhs are either killed or harassed or forcibly converted!

To say the least, it is this wrong that the new law seeks to correct. We all know fully well how Hindus, Sikhs among others have been forcefully converted in Pakistan, their temples and gurudwaras plundered and vandalized and this alone explains why their population stands hugely decimated! Can anyone deny this?

Why US, UN, UK and other European countries who keep lecturing India on human rights and secularism among other things never said anything on this nor ever took any step to ensure that no terror training camps are set up in Pakistan for being used to kill Hindus and other minorities? What is worse is that USA directly funded terror groups as was acknowledged recently by Pakistan PM Imran Khan admitting that 40,000 terrorists are active and earlier even by former Pakistani Army Chief and President – Gen Pervez Musharraf who said that it was only after attack on New York on World Trade Centre that US turned against us!

It cannot be denied that Amit Shah certainly has a very valid point when he points out rightly that India was wrongly partitioned by Congress on the flimsy basis of religion. Why UN, US and UK justified partition of India terming it as “biggest secular act” instead of disallowing the partition of India on the most flimsy ground of religion? What sort of secularism was partition on basis of religion?

Was Khan Abdul Ghaffar Khan not in his senses when he said to Jawaharlal Nehru that, “Nehru what have you done? You have made me a foreigner in my own country by agreeing to the partition of India on the ground of religion! Should I feel proud of it?” Why Congress buckled for partition when Maulana Abul Kalam Azad, Maulana Hasrat Mohani and many other Muslim Congress leaders didn’t want the partition of India on the ground of religion? Why were the disastrous consequences of partition not thought out?


Bursting myths about CAA


In the face of the politicians and the media spreading canards and misinformation regarding the Citizenship Amendment Act, the Modi government has released an FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions) that dispel the myths surrounding CAA.

 

Does the CAA affect any Indian citizen?

No, it has absolutely nothing to do with any Indian citizen in any way. The Indian citizens enjoy fundamental rights conferred on them by the Constitution of India of-India). No statute, including the CAA, can abridge or take them away. There has been a misinformation campaign. The CAA does not affect any Indian citizens, including Muslim citizens.

 

Who does the CAA apply to?

It is relevant only for Hindu, Sikh, Jain, Buddhist, Parsi and Christian foreigners, who have migrated from Pakistan, Bangladesh, and Afghanistan into India up to 31.12.2014, on account of persecution faced by them due to their religion. It does not apply to any other foreigners, including Muslims migrating to India from any country, including these three countries.

 

How does it benefit Hindu, Sikh, Jain, Buddhist, Parsi and Christian foreigners hailing from these three countries?

If their travel documents like passport and visa are not in order or are not available, they can apply for Indian citizenship if they were persecuted back home. The CAA creates this legal right for such migrants. Secondly, they get a faster route for Indian citizenship through the Naturalisation Mode. The minimum residency requirement in India would be only 1+5 years instead of 1+11 years as applicable for all other categories of foreigners.

Does this mean that Muslims from Pakistan, Bangladesh, and Afghanistan can never get Indian citizenship?

No, the present legal process of acquiring Indian citizenship by any foreigner of any category through Naturalization (Section 6 of the Citizenship Act) or through Registration (Section 5 of the Act) stays operational. The CAA does not amend or alter it in any manner whatsoever. Hundreds of Muslims migrating from these three countries have been granted Indian citizenship during the last few years. If found eligible, all such future migrants shall also get Indian citizenship, irrespective of their numbers or religion. In 2014, after the settlement of Indo-Bangladesh boundary issues, 14,864 Bangladeshi citizens were given Indian Citizenship when their enclaves were incorporated into the territory of India. Thousands of these foreigners were Muslims.

 

Will illegal Muslim immigrants from these three countries be deported under the CAA?

No, the CAA has absolutely nothing to do with the deportation of any foreigner from India. The deportation process of any foreigner irrespective of his religion or country is implemented as per the mandate of the Foreigners Act, 1946 and/or The Passport (Entry into India) Act, 1920. These two laws govern entry, stay movement within India and exit from India of all foreigners irrespective of their religion or country. Therefore, the usual deportation process would apply to any illegal foreigner staying in India. It is a well-considered judicial process that is based on a proper inquiry by the local police or administrative authorities to detect an illegal foreigner. It is ensured that such an illegal foreigner has been issued a proper travel document by the embassy of his country so that he can be duly received by officials of his country when he is deported.

In Assam, the process of deportation happens only after the determination of such a person as a “foreigner” under The Foreigners Act, 1946. Then he becomes liable for deportation. Therefore, there is nothing automatic, mechanical or discriminatory in this exercise. The state governments and their district-level authorities enjoy the power of Central Govt. under Section 3 of the Foreigners Act and Section 5 of The Passport (Entry into India) Act, 1920 to detect, detain & deport any illegal foreigner.

 

Can Hindus facing persecution on grounds of religion in countries other than these 3 countries apply under the CAA?

No, they will have to apply through the usual process to get Indian Citizenship just like any other foreigner for either registration or naturalization as a citizen of India. They would get no preference under The Citizenship Act, 1955, even after the CAA.

 

Does the CAA also cover other forms of persecution – on grounds of race, gender, membership of a political or social group, language, ethnicity etc.?

No, the CAA is a very focused law that deals specifically with foreigners of six minority community groups hailing from three neighboring countries that have their distinct state religion. Any foreigner persecuted abroad on any account may apply for registration or naturalization as a citizen of India like any other foreigner if he fulfils the minimum qualifications laid down in The Citizenship Act, 1955.

 

The CAA will gradually exclude Indian Muslims from the citizenship of India?

The CAA does not apply to any Indian citizen at all. All Indian citizens enjoy the fundamental rights guaranteed by the Constitution of India. CAA is not meant to deprive any Indian citizen of his citizenship. Rather it is a special law to enable certain foreigners facing a particular situation in three neighboring countries to get Indian citizenship.

 

CAA will be followed by NRC  and all migrants except Muslims will be given citizenship and Muslims will be sent to detention camps?

The CAA has nothing to do with NRC. The legal provisions regarding NRC have been part of The Citizenship Act, 1955 since December 2004. Also, there are specific statutory rules of 2003 to operationalize these legal provisions. They govern the process of registration of Indian citizens and the issuance of national identity cards to them. These legal provisions have been on the statute books since the last 15-16 years. The CAA has not altered them in any way whatsoever.

 

Will illegal Muslims immigrants from these three countries be automatically deported under this Law?

No. The CAA has absolutely nothing to do with the deportation of any foreigner from India.  The deportation process of any foreigner irrespective of his religion or country is implemented as per the mandate of the Foreigners Act, 1946 and/or The Passport (Entry into India) Act, 1920.  These two laws govern entry, stay movement within India and exit from India of all foreigners irrespective of their religion or country.

Therefore, the usual deportation process would apply to any illegal foreigner staying in India.  It is a well-considered judicial process that is based on a proper inquiry by the local police or administrative authorities to detect an illegal foreigner. It is ensured that such an illegal foreigner has been issued a proper travel document by the embassy of his country so that he can be duly received by officials of his country when he is deported.

In Assam, the process of deportation happens only after the determination of such a person as a “foreigner” under The Foreigners Act, 1946.  Then he becomes liable for deportation.  Therefore, there is nothing automatic, mechanical or discriminatory in this exercise. State Governments and their district-level authorities enjoy the power of Central Govt. under Section 3 of the Foreigners Act and Section 5 of The Passport (Entry into India) Act, 1920 to detect, detain & deport any illegal foreigner.

 

Does the CAA affect Indians (Hindus, Muslims, anyone)?

No. It has absolutely nothing to do with any Indian citizen in any way.  The Indian citizens enjoy Fundamental Rights conferred on them by the Constitution of India. No statute including the CAA can abridge or take them away.  There has been a misinformation campaign.  The CAA does not affect any Indian citizens, including Muslim citizens.

 

What about Sri Lankan Tamils?

India has provided citizenship to 4.61 lakh Tamils of Indian origin after signing PM level agreements signed in 1964 and 1974.  Presently ninety-five thousand Sri Lankan Tamils are living in Tamil Nadu on Central and State Government subsidies and grants.  They can apply for Indian citizenship whenever they become eligible.

 

Why only these three countries? And why only religious persecution of above-notified denominations?

The CAA deals with persecution on religious lines in three neighbouring countries where the Constitution provides for a specific State religion.  Followers of other religions have been persecuted in these three countries.  The Bill is very focused and provides a remedy for a particular situation in which some foreigners of these six minority communities find themselves.

 


Who can deny that Afghanistan, Pakistan and Bangladesh are all  Muslim countries where Islamic law prevails and where people belonging to other religions have been constantly exterminated and tortured and humiliated to most degrading extent? Who can deny that even the Buddha’s statues were not spared in Afghanistan and other places? So where will they go if not to India which is their mother country as earlier under British India and even earlier Pakistan, Afghanistan and even Bangladesh all formed part of India?

As it turns out, parties like the Congress among others are opposing this CAA on the ground that it leaves out Muslims and violates Article 14 which guarantees equality. Many parties like Congress feel very strongly that Shias are most persecuted in Pakistan among others and they too must be allowed to come in India. We cannot deny that Sunni terror groups which have got direct patronage from Pakistani Army and ISI keep attacking Shia shrines and keep killing them also in huge numbers in Pakistan as we keep reading also time and again!

Is this not the biggest slap on the face of Mohammad Ali Jinnah who was himself a Shia  and who was the founding father of Pakistan? All Shias must concede now unequivocally that partition was an act of betrayal by Jinnah! What purpose has partition served if even those from Jinnah’s Shia groups have to seek refuge in India? Why US, UK, UN and European countries among others never took any step to check the unabated cycle of deadly violence in Pakistan against Shias, Hindus, Sikhs among others?

If Shias are compelled to take refuge in India then Pakistan must be also integrated with India and all political parties must acknowledge that partition on basis of religion was the biggest stupidity that was allowed to happen right under the nose of Congress which called the shots in 1947 when India was partitioned! Why Congress never admits that they themselves were responsible for partition along with Jinnah, UK, US and UN who never wanted to see a united and strong India once the Britishers left India? Why they keep blaming VD Savarkar foolishly who had just no role to play in 1947 when India was partitioned? How long will Congress shy away from owning up its past mistakes and Himalayan blunders like the partition of India on the most absurd ground of religion?

Why US, UN, UK and European countries always maintained that India should remain quiet even if Hindus, Sikhs and other minority groups are killed most brutally not just in Pakistan, Bangladesh and Afghanistan but even in India in Jammu and Kashmir? Why they also insist that India must talk always to Pakistan and tolerate terror training camps operating from Pakistan and no action should be taken against dreaded terror groups like Taliban who has still not been declared a terror organization? Why they congratulate India when ‘Ramzan ka ceasefire’ is declared most stupidly and most shamelessly wherein all action is halted against terror groups and Pakistani Army giving them a free hand to kill our people and soldiers most brutally by beheading their heads as has happened also many times when they send their special trained commandos termed as “BAT” (Border Action Team) so that they can then play with head like football and why Muslims in India and parties speaking on their behalf also never say a word when Ramzan is identified with terror groups and “Ramzan ka ceasefire” is declared which I consider as the biggest insult of Islam and Muslims on earth? Why a deafening silence on it?

My best friend Sageer Khan had way back in 1993 said that, “India is the most tolerant country in the world. Muslims enjoy maximum independence in India alone and must always be happy and proud of it. In Pakistan they are discriminated against and Muslims from India are called ‘Mohajjirs’ and are still discriminated against and treated as second grade citizens. Similarly Balochis, Sindhis, Shias among others are all discriminated against in Pakistan. In India, Nehru banned Hindus from marrying more than one individual both male and female even though earlier they could marry as many as they liked but he did not touch Muslims and we still enjoy polygamy with full freedom! But see how tolerant Hindus are that no one ever said a word but if this had been done with Muslims we would have started screaming and yelling all over that our religion is in danger! Muslims must develop more tolerance for Hindus just like they have for us. Hindus never claim Mecca or Medina as temple sites! Why Muslims claim all those sacred Hindu sites like Ayodhya, Kashi and Mathura which Hindus hold sacred since lakhs of years on the plea that Babur or Aurangzeb built it? Who was Babur? He was just an invader and nothing else! How can Babur or Aurangzeb be preferred over Lord Ram? What if Hindus also demand temple in Mecca and Medina? We have not allowed any temple anywhere not just in Mecca or Medina but also in any other part of Saudi Arabia or any other Gulf country. Not a single mosque should ever be built in Ayodhya, Kashi and Mathura and Centre must declare them as “Hindu sites” and develop them just like Mecca and Medina.”

In a big relief to Centre, the Supreme Court has refused to stay the CAA, 2019 and has just issued a notice to the Centre on a clutch of 59 petitions challenging the amendments and said  it would hear the matter on January 22. Also, a Bench of Chief Justice of India Sharad Arvind Bobde and Justice BR Gavai and Justice Surya Kant also instructed Attorney General KK Venugopal to ask the government to publicise the provisions of the Act through the media to remove any confusion. The Bench of Apex Court thus declined to oblige some of the petitioners lawyers who pressed for a stay!

It is high time and now India must tell US, UN, UK and European countries to just simply mind their own business and stop meddling in India’s internal affairs which we are quite capable of sorting out ourselves! Why they never said anything when Hindus, Sikhs and other minorities were repeatedly killed in Pakistan, Afghanistan and Bangladesh? With what face do they lecture us when it is countries like US and UK who have always armed Pakistan to the teeth and have also trained even dreaded terrorists like Osama bin Laden helping  him to establish most dreaded terror organization Al Qaeda and had always given them long rope in regularly carrying out a deadly proxy war against us by sending terrorists to attack India regularly?

Don’t they feel ashamed? Why when Pakistani Army crushes locals in PoK, Sind, Balochistan and other parts does UN feel that Pakistan deserves more aid and more help? What is their logic behind it?

Can anyone explain? It is simple that countries like US, UK, China among others who constitute the permanent members of UN Security Council never want India to prosper and want that India should always be painted in a corner and Pakistan even if it threatens to nuke India time and again as their PM Imran Khan did right from the UN platform has to be still dealt with most humbly, most courteously and most politely! This is the real beauty of UN, US, UK and other European countries!

Should we still care for them? Certainly not. But yes, Muslims must be assured that they are not going to be affected at all and this the government is certainly doing! Centre has even said that Muslims too who are persecuted could be allowed in India once their bona fide claims are established as we saw in case of famous singer Adnan Sami!

What is most baffling is that Pakistan is most miffed at this? Why is Pakistan unhappy? Does Pakistan wants that Muslims from Pakistan should also settle down in India as Pakistan does not offer them much opportunities and minority groups like Shias, Ahmadiyas among others are unwanted?

This is exactly what those in India who are opposing CAA are demanding most vociferously! Then why don’t they concede that India is the best place for Muslims to live in as was admired by my best friend Sageer Khan way back in 1993 and stop painting a grim picture of India from every platform that they get to speak from? They must take a definite stand on this as they just can’t have it both ways!

In conclusion, Indian Muslims are not at all affected by CAA. This has been clarified by none other than the Shahi Imam of Jama Masjid as was pointed out in the beginning itself! This is what is my analysis also on it although I am yet to dwell on National Register of Citizens (NRC) and which is yet to take a final shape! So I will refrain from commenting on NRC!

All the violence that we are witnessing has been given a political colour by various political parties for gaining maximum political capital from it! This is what I find most reprehensible! It cannot be justified under any circumstances by anyone! How can burning of property or burning of buses or burning of railway stations be ever justified? Justifying it will be the surest recipe to unmitigated disaster and  complete anarchy!

It merits no reiteration that partition cannot be undone. But certainly those who have suffered from it must be provided maximum relief which is exactly what the Centre is doing most effectively for which it must certainly be applauded and not condemned! No way!

 

By Sanjeev Sirohi

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