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Citizenship law: Would Govt of India give in to 'mob' pressure? There is precedent

By NS Venkataraman*
The Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) was passed in both the houses of Indian Parliament after majority of members voted in favour of the Act. The immigrant issue emerged following the partition of India in 1947. Several prime pinisters in the past, including those of the Congress. wanted to regularize citizenship in India , but they were not courageous enough to catch the bull by the horn.
Now, the Modi government has tackled the issue. CAA was extensively discussed in both the houses of Parliament, highlighting the pluses and minuses of the issue. Finally, the majority opinion prevailed. In a healthy democracy and orderly society, it is necessary that the majority opinion is accepted gracefully by all concerned.
Some political parties and activists wanted to defy the decision of Parliament. They whipped up public agitation against CAA, incited hatred and violence, leading to bitter confrontation. This has tarnished the image of India as a progressive and forward-looking nation.
The anti-CAA agitation was supposed to have been started by the student community, many of whom are politicians in the making. It was taken over by political parties and activists and a section of the media, which gave wide publicity to protests, refusing to condemn violence.
Destruction of public property and setting on fire police vehicles and police stations were justified by some opposition leaders, activists and media, as if all this reflected the anger of the people. It amounted to justifying violence and hooliganism.
Some opposition leaders and activists want the CAA issue should be taken to the United Nations. It seems these type of statements have emanated out of frustration, as they could not defeat Prime Minister Narendra Modi during the last elections. Now they want to defeat him on streets by encouraging violence and creating law and order problems.
India consist of more than 1,300 million people. Those indulging in violence are just a few hundreds. They do not represent India, nor do they reflect the overall view of the majority of people. They disrupted normal life without understanding about the limits of democracy. Freedom cannot be absolute, it has limits.
They disrupted normal life without understanding limits of democracy. Freedom cannot be absolute, it has limits
The issue that concerns one and all is, will mob violence force the government to take decisions? If this happens, what will be the future of India? We are on a critical crossroad. The Government of India must act with determination, using carrot and stick approach. The issue of CAA has to be explained to the people by the government, as suggested by the Chief Justice of India.
India’s stability would be threatened if mob psychology is allowed to prevail. It may very well happen. There have been precedents. Several projects have been stopped or suspended in the recent past following public protests, many of them supported by political parties and activists, even though the authorities had carried out detailed investigation and approved them.
In several cases, state governments, and sometimes even the Central government, have bowed to the will of the mob. In the process, India has lost many opportunities. This situation cannot be allowed to continue any longer.
The government has the great responsibility of putting down negative elements with all the force at its command for the sake of long-term stability and progress of India. This would be very much in keeping with the spirit of democracy and protect it.
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*Trustee, Nandini Voice for the Deprived, Chennai

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