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Updated: Jan 7, 2020

What is Citizenship (Amendment) Bill or the Citizenship (Amendment) Act?

The CAA aims to amend the 1951 Citizenship Act by providing Indian citizenship to

(a) Hindus, Sikhs, Buddhists, Jains, Parsis and Christians of Pakistan, Bangladesh and Afghanistan.

(b) who have been residing in India before 31st December, 2014 and

(c) must have faced "religious persecution or fear of religious persecution" in their countries of origin.

(d) The Act also relaxed residence requirement for naturalization from 11 years to five years for these migrants.

The key takeaways:-

1) According to UNHCR, there are more than 200,000 refugees residing in India. India is not a signatory to the 1951 UN Refugee Convention and does not have a national policy on refugees. All refugees are classed as "illegal migrants". While India has been willing to host refugees, its traditional position formulated by Jawaharlal Nehru is that such refugees must return to their home countries after the situation returns to normal.

Since all the refugees are classified as "illegal migrants", India legally has the right to deport them any time.

2) The BJP government has put the same bill as a part of its manifesto and is implementing the same and I believe there is absolutely no use whining about it.

3) The immediate beneficiaries will be over 30,000 people as per the Intelligence Bureau.

4) The bill exempts the tribal areas of Assam, Meghalaya, and Tripura from its applicability. It also exempts the areas regulated through the Inner Line Permit, which include Arunachal Pradesh, Mizoram and Nagaland. Manipur was later added into the Inner Line Permit.

Why are people of Assam are protesting the Act?

Assam has a history of immigrants. The first wave happened when oil was first discovered in Digboi and it saw huge influx of people from neighboring state of Bengal. The second wave occurred the war of 1971 wherein large number of people fled from then East Bengal (Bangladesh). The second wave consisted of both, Hindus and Muslims. The citizens of Assam argue that they lost their identity due to the second influx which is true because most of the people in Assam now speak Bengali as opposed to Assamese. They say that the immigrants have moved from ghettos to occupying prime spaces and from respecting Assamese culture to replacing it with theirs.

19,06,657 people have been excluded the final list of NRC which means that they have been identified as "illegal migrants": at least on paper. NRC includes people who have been residing in Assam before 1971 which means that most of these illegal migrants have been living in India for at least 30 - 40 years. Now, according to the CAA / CAB, the non-Muslim migrants become Indian Citizens automatically. This huge number of people will now legally have the ability to reside anywhere in India except North East but for it would be foolish to expect such huge number of people to move out of NE quickly which means that the illegal migrants have the ability to disrupt the local culture.

My prediction:- The "new" Indian Citizens will move to the neighbouring state of West Bengal since they cannot reside anywhere in the North East. Certain party due to this phenomenon will have a sizeable vote bank and would like to cash it in the upcoming Bengal elections.

It is also rumoured that identification documents such as the Aadhar have been issued to multiple illegal Bangaladeshi migrants by the other party. Since, both the parties have added considerable vote bank, the elections would go to the last bout.

The controversy:-

As per Amit Shah, the reason to exclude Muslims is that they are not minorities in Bangladesh, Pakistan and Afghanistan although there are shreds of evidence that certain sects of Muslims have been prosecuted. Pakistan does not recognize Ahmedia as Muslims and they are regularly discriminated but the government is staying mum on this.

The opposition claims that the CAB ring fences Muslim identity by declaring India a welcome refuge to all other religious communities. It seeks to legally establish Muslims as second-class citizens of India by providing preferential treatment to other groups. They claim that this violates the Constitution’s Article 14, the fundamental right to equality to all persons. The basic structure of the Constitution cannot be reshaped by the Parliament. And yet, the government maintains that it does not discriminate or violate the right to equality.




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