On CAA, Strength of ‘Liberal-Seculars’ is only Hypocrisy and Falsehood
In a parliamentary democracy as we have in India, every enactment or an amendment to the existing Act of parliament has to be tabled in the two houses of parliament, must be discussed, after discussion put to vote of the house and passed by majority.
In the matter of the recent amendment to the Citizens’ Act 1955 this procedure was duly followed. After full discussion the opposition stressed on a division and the amendment was carried with a comfortable majority — 311 in favour and 80 against in Lok Sabha and 125 for and 105 against in Rajya Sabha. After the President of India gave his assent the Bill became the Citizens Amendment Act (CAA).
What else could be the democratic process? How could then a section of the opposition allege that democracy in the country has been/is being throttled? Opponents fail to enlighten the countrymen as to what way should have been adopted to get a law, like the CAA, through in a ‘democratic’ way? The procedure adopted by the present NDA government to get an enactment through in Parliament or state assembly is exactly the same as had been adopted by any Congress or non-Congress government in the past.
The people have not forgotten how did the then Congress-led UPA government of Dr. Manmohan Singh go to the extent of ‘purchasing’ support of other groups to sail through the Indo-US Civil Nuclear Deal because it did not command adequate numbers on its own strength. And yet that was perfectly ‘democratic’!
It is no democracy when those parties and leaders rejected by the people claim to be the custodians of peoples’ interests. It is a display of arrogance and autocracy by these self-righteous self-acclaimed ‘democratic’ leaders who cannot digest what the NDA government has gone so swiftly to fulfill the promises it made to the people during the general elections to Parliament held in May 2019.
And the parties and individuals opposed to NDA and others who supported CAA in Parliament are trying to undo this law passed by the two houses of Parliament by indulging in violence and arson resulting in loss of innocent lives and destruction of public and private property. They seem to be trying to kill parliamentary democracy through mobocracy.
As already made clear by both PM Narendra Modi and Home Minister Amit Shah, there is no provision in the new amended law that any person belonging to any minority and majority group can be deprived of his/her citizenship. In fact, CAA has been enacted only to provide citizenship to Hindu, Christian, Sikh, Parsi and Buddhist minority which has been forced to leave Pakistan, Bangladesh, or Afghanistan. Everybody knows that these minority groups are harassed, tortured and forcibly converted to Islam in these countries. Even the UN Human Rights Organisation has condemned these countries for human rights violation and torture of minorities in these countries.
To make Partition of India creating Pakistan in 1947 (and, later, secession of East Pakistan from West Pakistan to give birth to Bangladesh) look ‘secular’ can be nothing else but an act of self-befooling; it was a cent-percent division of India on communal lines. Besides other tragedies, it also goes to the lack of vision of the then Congress leadership which made no effort to evolve an agency to safeguard the interests of the minorities in the countries that separated from India. In 1950, Indian prime minister Jawaharlal Nehru and the then Pakistan premier Liaqat Ali Khan did sign an India-Pakistan agreement to safeguard the interests of the minorities in the two countries.
While India did honestly implement the agreement, for Pakistan it remained just a piece of paper worth throwing into a dustbin. Facts speak for themselves.
In 2001-11 decade India’s population rose by 18 percent while that of Muslims went up by 24 percent. Accordingly, the percentage of Muslim population jumped to 14.3 percent from 13.4 while that of Hindus went down from 84.1 to 80.5 percent.
On the other hand, the Hindu population in Pakistan which was 12.9 percent in 1947 fell to a meager of 1.6 percent now. In Bangladesh Hindu population according to 1951 census was 22.05 percent. It has been made to melt down to 8.5 percent.
These facts hold a mirror to the reality how far are the minorities in India, Pakistan and Bangladesh being treated. Can Pakistan or Afghanistan’s minorities hold protests the way a minority of India’s Muslims is doing in India? In these two countries even when Hindu population is being persecuted, yet no minority of Hindus, Sikhs, Buddhists, Parsis are accused of any terrorist activity.
People are being instigated against the amended law on unfounded and imaginary grounds that Muslims from these countries had been excluded from being eligible to get Indian citizenship. It would be a rank hypocrisy — and to a great extent laughable and foolish too — to assume that Muslims in these Islamist countries are a ‘persecuted’ lot. To think of Muslim ‘persecution’ in these Islamist countries would be as much a stupidity as to presume that Christians in countries like Vatican City, Rome, Great Britain and USA could have been persecuted so much persecuted on account of their faith forcing them to quit their mother/fatherland to seek citizenship in other countries. Union Minister Nitin Gadkari has rightly said: India cannot be turned into a dharmshaala for giving citizenship to persons from every country in the world.
That is the reason why the Muslim community from these countries was excluded in CAA. Including majority community from these countries for citizenship would only have resulted in welcoming export of terrorist elements in the garb of their ‘persecution’.
People are also being misled on imaginary provisions in the CAA to deprive India’s Muslim citizens of their citizenship and to throw them out of the country. The PM and Home Minister have challenged the leaders opposing the Act to show where at all there is a provision to cancel the citizenship of any Indian, not to speak of Muslim citizens of India. They have yet to accept the challenge.
In 1971 10 million refugees from the then East Pakistan (now Bangladesh) entered India. Why were they not given citizenship by the then ‘secular’ Congress government of Smt. Indira Gandhi?
Moreover, the anti-CAA elements must understand that there are about 50 Islamist countries in the world and India is the only one Hindu majority but secular country. If not India, where else can — and should — the Hindu citizens go if they are persecuted on account of their faith in Pakistan, Bangladesh and Afghanistan?
It is a pity — and, to a great extent, hypocrisy — that Congress and other self-proclaimed ‘secular’ parties are now shedding tears on imaginary fears alleging ‘injustice’ to Muslim minority. Earlier, they had been supporting Articles 370 and 35A and now opposing when these have been scrapped. These very ‘secular’ parties had, in effect, been instrumental in allowing persistence of the worst kind of injustice to minorities and dalits in J&K because of these very articles. Successive J&K governments had during the past 72 years refused to grant citizenship to people who had migrated to the State at the time of Partition in 1947. More than 50,000 scavengers had been brought to the valley for serving the people of the State but they were neither granted citizenship nor allowed to do any other service. J&K women who married persons from other States were deprived of their rights in the State. The government had also denied rights to dalits and backward classes. Human rights, scheduled caste/scheduled tribes and backward classes commission had not been constituted in the State. Yet these ‘secular’ parties remained instrumental and silent on continuance of this injustice to the people. Why? They would not explain.
By Amba Charan Vashishth
(The writer is a Delhi-based political analyst and commentator.)