Why The Citizenship Amendment Act, 2019 Should Be Opposed

Posts Dec 17, 2019

A lot of people seem to think that the CAA is a harmless piece of legislation that fixes a very specific problem, and that the people who are protesting it are either Muslim or politically-motivated. Consider this article my one and only attempt at changing some minds. If it fails, so be it.

I start with the "golden triangle" of fundamental rights that the Constitution promises us, except Article 19, which gives specific fundamental rights to citizens, and thus the people who do not gain citizenship under the CAA would not get those rights. Article 19 cannot be used here.

Article 14, however, can. It reads - "The State shall not deny to any person equality before the law or the equal protection of the laws within the territory of India." Note the two terms - "any person" (not citizen) and "within the territory of India". You do not need to be a citizen to get this right.

Article 21 similarly says - "No person shall be deprived of his life or personal liberty except according to procedure established by law." Again, not citizen, person.

What the CAA does is very simple. If you are a Hindu or a Parsi or a Sikh or a Jain or a Christian, and you came to India from either Afghanistan, Bangladesh or Pakistan (all Islamic States) on or before December 31st, 2014, the normal requirement of having resided in India for 11 of the past 14 years does not apply to you. You need to have resided in India for just 6 of the past 14 years to get Indian citizenship. The Government is painting this as a noble attempt to help our poor brothers and sisters who have faced religious persecution in those countries. Well, aren't they saints.

What the Government will not tell you, and would rather you not figure it out either, is that with citizenship comes voting rights. Millions of non-Muslims will now get voting rights. Whom will they vote for? BJP, the people who saved them. A permanent vote bank.

To make it absolutely clear, so that no one has a chance to twist these words, I have nothing but the deepest sympathies for those who have suffered religious persecution anywhere in the world. And I would like to state unequivocally that had the CAA given citizenship to ALL who came to India from Bangladesh, Afghanistan and Pakistan on or before December 31st, 2014, I would not have given this another thought. But no, they went out of their way to exclude Muslims. No Muslim who came to India from those countries on or before December 31st, 2014, will get citizenship. Hence, no voting rights.

So riddle me this. If the Government really is the horse-riding, crown-wearing, lovable bunch of saviors that they like to portray themselves as, why exclude Muslims, the one community they have a known enmity with? Why not relax citizenship laws for ALL of them, instead of just non-Muslims? Aren't their rights getting violated? Aren't they being denied the rights they have as people within the territory of India under Articles 14 and 21?

This, if in itself not worrying enough, gets more sinister when you consider the effect it would have when combined with the NRC, or National Register of Citizens. The NRC makes it compulsory for people to show documents that can trace their ancestry in order to prove that they are Indians. If they cannot, they get thrown out of the country.

Have you made the connection yet, or do you need me to spell it out for you?

It's perfectly natural for people to lose their documents, so scores of people are going to be negatively affected by the NRC. However, if they are non-Muslims, they get a nice little safety net. The citizenship laws are relaxed for them. Muslims, however, get thrown out of the country. A way to indirectly "cleanse" the country of the "disease" of Islam.

Look. If you hate Muslims, just come out and say that you hate Muslims. I'll at least respect you for speaking your mind. But don't cower behind lies of benevolence and upliftment of those genuinely downtrodden communites and use that as an excuse to throw out an entire religion of people from a SECULAR country.

I wish the Government would just come right out and say that they hate Muslims and want them gone from this country, instead of concocting this clever little scheme of silent exclusion.

It all comes down to this -

Less Muslim Citizens = Less Muslim Voters = More percentage of Hindu Voters = More Votes For BJP.

That's it. That's all this is. BJP wants to remain in power, and it hates Muslims. Kill two birds with one stone. But it doesn't even have the guts to actually say that that's what it's doing.

I would now like to take you back to 1985, to New Delhi. The leaders of the Indian Government and those of the Assam Movement signed an accord to end a six-year agitation in which 855 people were martyred and thousands more were injured. The Movement was against the illegal immigration of Bangladeshi nationals into Assam. The Accord stated that foreigners who entered Assam before March 25th, 1971, would be given citizenship. The rest would be liable to deportation. This is an Accord to gain which nearly a thousand people lost their lives. The CAA now brings the cutoff date to December 31st, 2014. I suppose the Accord is being broken and the deaths of all those martyrs are being ignored out of benevolence, too?

Why is the Government silent on these points? Why not provide a full, comprehensive rebuttal of these points, that so many people other than myself have already raised? Why only provide platitudes of peace and the same old accusation that the opposition party is playing politics?

But here's the thing. You cannot protest in any way which is violent. You do that, and you give the police the excuse to use way more force than is necessary. That's already happened at Jamia and at AMU. If you step one toe out of line, the credibility of the cause you stand for is destroyed and you are called a hooligan. That's just the way it is. Protests must not turn violent at any point. It they do, we have already seen what can happen.

I hate that I'm having to write this article. I hate that this is all I can think about nowadays. I hate that the BJP is dividing the country. I hate that all those Indians who cried during the Partition don't realize that BJP is implementing a more silent, softer Partition right now. I hate that I have had fights with close friends over this. I hate that the whole country is now bitter and negative. I hate everything about this Act.

You know the most surprising thing to me about this whole fiasco? Why hasn't the Supreme Court done anything about the CAA? I'm a law student, not even an actual lawyer, and even I can see how this Act is unconstitutional. What are all those judges, who clearly know a lot, lot more than I do, doing? How many more people have to be injured, how many more have to die, before the Supreme Court does something?

Because clearly, the Government couldn't give two shits about anything as long as they get their votes.

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