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Congress, TMC and CPM push the false narrative on CAA yet again, even after it led to an anti-Hindu riot 2 years ago: Details

The common theme in the statements made by TMC, Congress and CPM leaders after PM Modi's speech was that the central government was providing citizenship on the basis of religion and that the move was discriminatory.

Addressing a function in the national capital on the 553rd Prakash Parv of Guru Nanak Dev, Prime Minister Narendra Modi spoke about the importance of the Citizenship Amendment Act that was passed in 2020. He emphasised the importance of CAA as a means to help the persecuted Hindus and Sikhs affected by the partition.

PM Modi said, “In memory of the sacrifices by the people of Punjab and the country during the partition, the country has started commemorating the Partition Horrors Remembrance Day. We have also tried to create a way to give citizenship to the Hindu and Sikh families affected by the Partition by bringing in the CAA. You must have seen that Gujarat granted citizenship to persecuted Sikh families abroad. This has given them confidence that India is the home for Sikhs living anywhere in the world.” 

Interestingly, on the 31st of October, the central government invited applications for citizenship from Hindus, Sikhs, Jains, Christians and Buddhists hailing from Afghanistan, Pakistan and Bangladesh who are currently residing in the Mehsana and Anand districts. The Modi government delegated its powers to grant citizenship to the collectors of the mentioned districts. While the rules under the CAA are yet to be framed, the MHA invoked the provisions of the Citizenship Act, 1955. 

No sooner had PM Modi made these remarks about CAA, the opposition hit at PM Modi and started peddling the very falsehoods about CAA that led to widespread and organised riots against Hindus in 2020.

State Congress president Adhir Chowdhury said, “Citizenship cannot be granted based on a person’s religion. The Constitution of the country does not allow such a thing. It goes against the ethos of the country. This is nothing but an attempt to polarise the people of Gujarat ahead of the Assembly polls.”

Similar statements were made by TMC and CPM as well.

CPM leader Sujan Chakraborty said, “The country witnessed Partition 75 years ago. Are those staying in the country for last 75 years not citizens of India? If not then who is responsible for creating such a situation? They have been used as vote bank for so long. Now after not recongnising them citizens for so long, the Centre is now talking about granting them citizenship. It is nothing but politics”.

TMC leader Kunal Ghosh, according to Indian Express, echoed the same sentiments. He said that the centre was taking a discriminatory approach towards granting citizenship.

What Prime Minister Modi said is a fact – that Hindus, Sikhs and other non-Muslim denominations were persecuted after the partition in neighbouring Islamic nations and continue to be persecuted till date. However, the opposition used this opportunity to peddle the same dangerous tropes and falsehoods about CAA that led to anti-Hindu violence in 2020 in Northeast Delhi.

What is the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA)

The Citizenship Amendment Act is a law passed by the Indian Parliament that is directed towards providing citizenship rights to people who belong to minority religions in the neighboring Islamic countries of Pakistan, Bangladesh and Afghanistan. The Act also reduces the minimum term required to stay in India before applying for citizenship by naturalization to five years instead of 11 years. Thus, the law applies to Hindus, Jains, Buddhists, Sikhs, Zoroastrians and Christians from the specified neighboring Islamic countries.

This Amendment adds proviso in section 2, in sub-section (1), in clause (b) in the Citizenship Act, 1955. The Proviso reads as “Provided that any person belonging to Hindu, Sikh, Buddhist, Jain, Parsi or Christian community from Afghanistan, Bangladesh or Pakistan, who entered into India on or before the 31st day of December, 2014 and who has been exempted by the Central Government by or under clause (c) of sub-section (2) of section 3 of the Passport (Entry into India) Act, 1920 or from the application of the provisions of the Foreigners Act, 1946 or any rule or order made thereunder, shall not be treated as illegal migrant for the purposes of this Act.”

Further, new section 6B added in the Citizenship Act, 1955 states that on and from the date of commencement of the Citizenship (Amendment) Act, 2019, any proceeding pending against a person under this section in respect of illegal migration or citizenship shall stand abated on conferment of citizenship to him, provided that such person shall not be disqualified for making application for citizenship under this section on the ground that the proceeding is pending against him and the Central Government or authority specified by it in this behalf shall not reject his application on that ground if he is otherwise found qualified for grant of citizenship under this section.

Further, it adds in the proviso that who makes the application for citizenship under this section shall not be deprived of his rights and privileges to which he was entitled on the date of receipt of his application on the ground of making such application.

The section 6B (4) adds that nothing in this section shall apply to the tribal areas of Assam, Meghalaya, Manipur, Mizoram or Tripura as included in the Sixth Schedule to the Constitution and the area covered under “The Inner Line” notified under the Bengal Eastern Frontier Regulation, 1873.

It is pertinent to understand that CAA 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.

The falsehoods peddled by TMC, CPM and Congress on CAA after PM Modi’s statement

The common theme in the statements made by TMC, Congress and CPM leaders after PM Modi’s speech was that the central government was providing citizenship on the basis of religion and that the move was discriminatory. In fact, the CPM leader went a step ahead and insinuated that CAA would somehow affect the Muslim citizens of India by asking if the people living in this country for the past 75 years were not citizens at all.

These falsehoods have been debunked several times in the past and it is pertinent to note that it is these very falsehoods that led to mass violence against Hindus in 2020. While opposition parties peddle such tropes, it is important to remember that CAA does not pertain to Indian Citizens at all and therefore, to even ask the question about the citizenship status of the people (Muslims) living in this country for the past 75 years.

It is also disingenuous to claim that CAA is discriminatory in any manner. This is a law that aims to provide citizenship to those minority communities that have been persecuted by the majority Muslim community in Islamic nations who came to India as refugees up until 31st December 2014. It has nothing to do with the normal process of citizenship being granted – for example – a Muslim can apply for citizenship in India too and he will have to go through the normal procedure for his application to be accepted.

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.

The core argument that was made against the CAA was that the provisions do not apply to the persecuted Shias, Ahmadiyya and Rohingya Muslims of the neighbouring countries and hence, it is unconstitutional and ‘communal’. First and foremost, the law is dedicated to providing relief to the victims of religious persecution. Shias, Ahmadiyya and Rohingya Muslims are Muslims; they are all adherents of the Islamic faith. They only belong to different sects within Islam. Thus, the provisions of a law that is dedicated to providing relief to victims of religious persecution can, naturally, not apply to the said Islamic sects.

It is also a dangerous game that is being played by the opposition given that it was these very falsehoods that led to anti-Hindu Delhi Riots in 2020. There were repeated tropes about the citizenship of Muslims being affected adversely due to CAA. The opposition had also spread falsehoods saying that Muslims will eventually be deported from the country due to the combination effect of CAA and NRC – even though NRC was only a promise and not even a draft for national NRC has been released.

It is rather concerning that even after the deaths of over 50 people in an organised riot that aimed to “teach Hindus a lesson”, the very same falsehoods that were used to organise mass action and violence against Hindus in 2020 is being repeated again.

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