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Citizenship Amendment Act 2019 and the hypocrisy of the opposition parties

The plight of many communities, like Matua, Namoshudra, Raj Banshi, Sikh, Christian, Jain, Buddhist, Parsis who took refuge in India due to persecution, for years and decades is well known to all.

In the first six months of the Modi 2.0 Government, a lot of path-breaking, far-reaching, and long-pending decisions were taken, many of which resulted in new enactments. Instant Triple Talaq, a regressive method of annulling a Muslim marriage, was set-aside by the Supreme Court and at whose suggestion a new Act was passed. Later the Parliament also abrogated Articles 35A and 370 by more than two-third majority.

While the Parliament was busy in undoing some historical mistakes, the Supreme Court of India, decided on the title suit of Ayodhya / Ram Janmabhoomi case, paving the way to the construction of the very long pending Ram Janmbhoomi Temple in Ayodhya.

In none of the above, there was any protest, no one took to the streets, though there was enough gunpowder to be ignited.

Why is there so much protest against the Citizenship Amendment Act? The answer is – Politics. The Citizenship Amendment Act simply fast tracks the citizenship of minorities from three neighbouring countries – Afghanistan, Pakistan, and Bangladesh. It does not affect any Indian citizen of any religious community, including Muslims. There is a deliberate attempt by groups with vested interests, to get people to hit the street. It suits political propaganda of a few who have lost or are on the verge of losing their political significance and power.

Read: Who is instigating violence in colleges: Congress, NSUI, a sinister WhatsApp group and anti-CAA protests

The plight of many communities, like Matua, Namoshudra, Raj Banshi, Sikh, Christian, Jain, Buddhist, Parsis who took refuge in India due to persecution, for years and decades is well known to all. Over the passage of time, different political parties have voiced their concerns and some have even demanded a mechanism be created to solve the citizenship issue of these people.

On 18 December 2003 Shri Manmohan Singh, Leader of the Opposition in Rajya Sabha said “While I am on this subject, I would like to say something, about the treatment of refugees. After the partition of our country, the minorities in countries like Bangladesh have faced persecution, and it is our moral obligation that if circumstances force people, these unfortunate people, to seek refuge in our country, our approach to granting citizenship to these unfortunate persons should be more liberal. I sincerely hope that the hon. Deputy Prime Minister will bear this in mind in charting out the future course of action with regard to the Citizenship Act.”

Read: As Congress opposes CAB, here is what Manmohan Singh had said in support of the bill in 2003

In May 2012, the CPI(M) during its 20thParty Congress, highest body of the party, in Kozhikode adopted a resolution – the excerpts of which are:

‘This Party Congress calls upon the Central Government to honour the assurance given by the Prime Minister to sympathetically consider the legitimate demand of a large number of Bengali refugees to recognize them as citizens of India.  They had fled their country erstwhile East Pakistan and then Bangladesh.  A large number of these refugees belong to the Scheduled Castes, mainly namashudra communities and are living in different parts of the country.

This Party Congress demands a suitable amendment in Clause 2 (i) (b) of the said Citizenship Act in relation to the Bangladesh minority community refugees.’

On 22nd May 2012, the General Secretary, Prakash Karat, wrote a letter to the Prime Minister, which was printed in the People’s Democracy on 3rd June.

Quotes from the said letter:

“….citizenship problems of a large number of refugees from erstwhile East Bengal and then even after the formation of Bangladesh who had to flee their country in particular historical circumstances over which they had no control. Their situation is different from those who have come to India due to economic reasons.”

“However, in spite of the consensus on the floor of the House,

this was not done. For nearly a decade the matter has been pending.”

Read: The CPIM wanted citizenship rights for Bengali Hindus in 2012 before its U-Turn seven years later: Here is all you need to know

The case of Mamata Banerjee, leader of Trinamool Congress is even more revealing.  In 2005, as a Lok Sabha MP, she approached the Speaker’s Chair and in a high pitched voice protested against the Bangladeshi infiltrators who had come to West Bengal, changing the demography.  After protesting she threw a bunch of papers at the Speaker and staged a walkout. The same Mamata Banerjee, who is now the Chief Minister of West Bengal, challenges the Government of India to implement the Act, and dramatically says “only over her dead body“.

Doesn’t it show the hypocrisy of some political parties and politicians in India, who once portrayed themselves as the messiah of the persecuted minorities, but are today on the streets opposing the same law that is aimed at giving these oppressed people Indian citizenship? The CAA was passed by 311 to 80 in Lok Sabha and 125 to 105 in Rajya Sabha after being debated for more than 20 hours in the two Houses. Surprisingly 8 of the 22 MPs of TMC in Lok Sabha abstained from voting despite their party whip. To the best of knowledge, these 8 disobedient MPs were not even asked for show-cause. After all this Mamata Banerjee has now demanded a UN-monitored referendum.

Read: Indian Muslims do not stand to suffer due to the CAA-NRC combo: Here are the laws and guidelines explained

The hypocrisy of the political class is out on the streets and is for everyone to see. They have tried to misguide the Indian Muslims by saying that the CAA would adversely impact the Indian Muslims and once the NRC is implemented the will lose their citizenship. In very crisp words, I would like to clear the myth surrounding this –

  1. The CAA does not affect any Indian citizen of any religion. This is for giving citizenship to those minorities from Pakistan, Bangladesh and Afghanistan who have come to India facing persecution till 2014.
  2. The CAA is only applicable to minorities of Afghanistan, Pakistan and Bangladesh. This does not have any impact on Indian citizens including Muslims. Indian Muslims should NOT feel concerned.
  3. There has been no nationwide announcement of NRC. In the future, if ever there will be, due care will be taken that Indian citizens do not face any problem, as has been assured by the Hon’ble Prime Minister and Home Minister of India.

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Shishir Bajoria
Shishir Bajoria is the Chairman, Board of Governors, IIM Shillong and the Chairman of SK Bajoria Group

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