With the approval of the Rajya Sabha, the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill, 2019, (CAB) has finally been passed. To take a historical view, the unfinished agenda of India’s independence struggle has now been completed. Doing justice to the refugees who — believing in the solemn assurance enshrined in the Nehru-Liaquat Pact — chose to stay back in regions that were earlier parts of India, was our historic national commitment and the government has dutifully abided by the same.
The CAB, now fomalised as an Act, will facilitate Indian citizenship to several lakh refugees who were compelled to seek refuge in India for the sake of protecting not only their identity but their very existence in their respective home countries like Pakistan, Afghanistan and Bangladesh.
Many perversions which crept in with India’s Partition on religious grounds have now been corrected – at least partially. Justice has been delivered to those hapless Hindus and other minority groups from these three countries, who had to pay the price for breach of trust on the part of rulers in some neighbouring countries.
While this law has paved the way for the fulfilment of the aspirations of lakhs of refugees, parties that have thrived only on the basis of vote bank politics, are stoking needless fears in the minds of a few sections in certain parts of the country. Having realised that the days for vote bank politics are now numbered, interested political groups are spreading canards and engaging in calumny.
There are four major points that are being made and used to ignite the fires of misunderstanding, mutual distrust and suspicion. The first fear is that lakhs of Bangladeshis would now become legal migrants in Assam and other states. This is far from reality. There is absolutely no question of granting citizenship to all illegal migrants from any of the three neighbouring countries. The Act facilitates citizenship only to the refugees who were forced to leave their country because of persecution on religious grounds and essentially from only specified religious communities who are a minority in those countries. Opposition is also making a noise about the alleged discrimination on religious grounds as only Hindus, Sikhs, Jain, Buddhists, Christians and Parsis will be easily getting Indian citizenship.
However, it is a fact that all Pakistan, Afghanistan and Bangladesh are avowedly Islamic with their constitutions proclaiming Islam as their official religion. So, to pre-empt that adherents of Islam would be facing persecution is an affront to the neighbouring countries and a blatantly flawed approach.
The third major objection is about a selective approach since only three neighbouring countries are going to be benefitted. Honestly, there is nothing unusual in this approach. In the past too, refugees or persons displaced because of wars and social strifes from only specified countries were granted citizenship.
Tamil refugees who crossed over to India from Sri Lanka or say from an African country like Uganda were granted citizenship with a standalone approach, without any blanket generalisation. Fourthly, the government, with due consideration to the concerns of our brethren from the north-eastern states, has ensured that this act will not be made applicable to most parts of the Northeast.
As rightly pointed out by Union Home Minister Amit Shah, this government could also have slept over the decades-old issue of persecuted minorities from neighbouring countries. It is easy to spread disinformation and create a fear psychosis about this law.
Not unexpectedly, interested groups are working overtime to spread disinformation and create problems for the government. So, continuing to brush the issue under the carpet and promoting status -quo was always an option available to previous governments. However, conscious of the huge backlog of unfinished promises, the Modi government has decisively moved ahead and resolutely tried to solve an issue that was considered unsolvable.
A law in good faith Doomsayers have now started asking questions that are ignorance-based. Would the government keep the illegal migrants — who are not eligible for citizenship even after this act — in detention camps?
To set the record straight, the exercise of National Register of Citizens (NRC) and the resultant setting up of the detention camps is completely, and only, in accordance with the directives of the High Court or Supreme Court and Central as well as State governments. The only objective behind the Act was humanitarian justice for the most deprived section, that is stateless, at times unnamed, for decades unrecognised and also neglected. Minorities from these three neighbouring countries were forced to flee and enter India simply to save their life, dignity and freely pursue their aspirations. To compel them to move from the frying pan to the fire is against the grain of the idea of India. This Act provides them a human touch and much-needed safety, security and dignity.
PM Jawaharlal Nehru had famously talked of ‘Tryst with destiny’. With CAB, PM Narendra Modi has walked the path proclaiming a historic ‘Tryst with humanity’.
(Courtesy of Mail Today)