Decoding points of confusion over CAA

The Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) was passed in the winter session of 2019 to provide Indian citizenship to the illegal migrants who entered India on or before 31st December 2014. The Act was passed for migrants of six different religions such as Hindus, Sikhs, Buddhists, Jains, Parsis, and Christians from Afghanistan, Bangladesh, and Pakistan.

Any individual will be considered eligible for this act if he/she has resided in India during the last 12 months and for 11 of the previous 14 years. For the specified class of illegal migrants, the number of years of residency has been relaxed from 11 years to five years.

In the age of digital media and the emergence of social media, it has become easy for the political class to misinterpret society for its own vested interest. A similar kind of perception-based politics is being executed nationwide. I have tried to answer those points which have created confusion in the intellectual atmosphere.

Does CAA violate Article 14 of the Indian constitution?

It is being said in the political arena that the citizenship amendment act 2019 violates Article 14. Article 14 of the Indian Constitution states – “The State shall not deny to any person equality before the law or the equal protection of the laws within the territory of India.” T. Devadasan vs The UOI case, SC clarified that equality before the law means that equality among equals.

It implies that equality is not absolute and can’t be tested against unequal circumstances. Social realities between Muslims and Non-Muslims from Bangladesh, Pakistan, and Afghanistan are totally different. Thus, technically this bill passes the equality test.

Does CAA violate Article 15 of the Indian constitution?

Article 15 guarantees that the state shall not discriminate against any citizen on grounds only of race, religion, caste, sex & place of birth. It is being argued that the citizenship amendment act is a discriminatory law because the Indian govt can’t form a law to make on a religious basis.

Yes, I also agree that laws can’t be made on religious grounds for their OWN CITIZENS, otherwise, our all foreign policies would look discriminatory. We must know that Article 15 is the fundamental rights which are available ONLY for Indian citizen. This bill talks about the ‘non-citizens’ of India. Thus, there is no discrimination against the ‘citizen’ of India.

Is CAA against the judgment of the S.R. Bommai case?

Judgment cites that in the case of fundamental rights Vs religion, fundamental rights will prevail over religion. That’s why university students are protesting against it by saying that CAA is unconstitutional.

If we ponder upon by the same logic, then, not giving reservation to STs and SCs in Jamia Millia Islamia (JMI) and Aligarh Muslim University (AMU) also violates fundamental rights of SC and ST over the religion because here religion is getting priority over the fundamental rights enshrined in the Article 15(4) of Indian constitution. One must note that Article 25 to 28 is NOT only exclusive for Muslims but for all religions.

Does CAA destroy the culture of northeastern states?

For the rest of India, it is not a concern but for Assam & northeastern states, it has been a serious concern for decades. Unique identity & tradition have been eroding for a long due to illegal immigration from Bangladesh. But according to the report published in the Times of India, 9 out of 27 districts of Assam are Muslim majority.

Thus, the existential threat to the culture of Assam is from Bangladeshi Muslim immigrants. If the indigenous people of Assam will lose political power to the illegal Bangladeshi Muslim immigrants then the possibility of saving the identity & culture of Assam will vanish. Assam may become the next Kashmir which is a horrible dream.

Is CAA against Indian Muslims?

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It is being wrongly manipulated by the politicians and lobbyists in the media that the Indian govt is making Muslims of India stateless. CAA has never talked to weed out existing Indian Muslims. Tired and defeated opposition parties are trying to prepare the ground to revive itself through such fear politics.

It would be unjust if the act excludes Indian Muslims. Even this bill doesn’t ‘exclude’ foreign Muslims. Even if the foreign Muslim population wants to come back to India, they can still apply through the natural process of getting citizenship in India. CAA is an affirmative action against stateless and persecuted minority which can’t be seen as discrimination.

Why Muslim community of the designated three countries are not added to the act?

First, CAA is intended to protect those who face religious persecutions in the designated Islamic nations. A bunch of world reports is crying about the persecution of minorities in the named Islamic states. Second, Muslims come to India from Bangladesh, Pakistan & Afghanistan for the ‘pull factor’ not ‘push factor’.

It implies that they don’t come to India due to persecution but due to the attraction of a better lifestyle. Third, non-Muslims of undivided India were promised to take back to India if they feel so. Fourth, it makes sense to give persecuted people but will it make sense to those who have persecuted?

Should India refrain from CAA?

Congress committee proposal made in 1950 to argue that Congress itself had promised shelter & refuge to only ‘non-Muslims’ coming to India from Pakistan. PM Modi says “Mahatma Gandhi also had promised on 7th July 1947 ‘Hindus’ and ‘Sikhs’ explicitly that whenever they feel to come back to India they would be welcomed.”

Leaders across the political spectrum from Nehru to J.P Narayan and even Manmohan Singh have also expressed the need to grant them citizenship. Nehru-Liaquat Pact was signed between India & Pakistan in order to provide safeguards to the minorities in the two countries. Failure of this act compels India morally to welcome minorities of Pakistan and Bangladesh.

Does CAA have a relation with NRC?

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It’s political speculations that are moving around. The government clarified through PIB that CAA is a separate law and NRC is a separate process. The CAA has come into force nationwide after its passage from Parliament, while the NRC rules and procedures for the country are yet to be decided.

The NRC process that is going on in Assam has been implemented by the Honourable Supreme Court and mandated by the Assam Accord. There is no need for an Indian citizen of any religion to worry about CAA or NRC.

Does CAA try to flush out Muslims from India?

It’s pure misinformation that is being inculcated among the people that Muslims of India would be flushed out from Indian society. It’s nothing but a political trap because the idea of India is incomplete without the Muslim community. First, we have shared the history of Islam in Indian history like other religions like Buddhism and Jainism. We must not forget that history always has both good and bad faces.

Second, without minority community ideas of India such as secularism, tolerance and pluralism don’t hold value. In the absence of minority communities against whom these ideas will be tested? Third, ‘New Israel’ is not possible in today’s world politics. Even if anyone tries, the world won’t allow it.

We people must refrain from political traps. The fertility of political ground is directly proportional to societal unrest. Thus, its political compulsions for politicians to create an environment of fear. It is a natural fact that Muslim society is very ‘sensitive’ for a religious cause similar to Tamils in the context of language cause.

It should be cleared that nobody can destroy any ‘Tehzeeb’ until and unless one follows it with a positive attitude. The ultimate sufferer will be the common people. Just ask yourself that how many political leaders lost their children in violence which they led? You must feel that India stands on some principles and it is out of politician’s capacity to harm them.

Thus, the CAA is NOT Discriminatory towards Muslims rather fair to all and providing justice to the persecuted communities – Hindus, Sikhs, Buddhists, Jains, Parsis, and Christians coming from the said three countries.

Footnotes

  1. Decoding Dream India | Decoding the grammar of anarchy in post-independent India
  2. PRS India | The Citizenship (Amendment) Bill, 2019
  3. Indian Kanoon | Article 14 in the constitution of India
  4. Decoding Dream India | CAA 2019: A new morning for stateless and persecuted minorities of undivided India
  5. Times of India | Muslim majority districts in Assam up
  6. Indian Express | The Nehru-Liaquat Agreement of 1950
  7. Business Standard | PM Modi quotes Bapu to attack Gandhi family for its anti-CAA stand
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