Skip to main content

PUCL: Citizenship law to create new class of subordinated citizens with restricted rights

Counterview Desk
In a statement, Ravi Kiran Jain, national president, and Dr V Suresh, national general secretary, People's Union for Civil Liberties (PUCL) have expressed concern that, following the passing of the Citizenship (Amendment) Act in Parliament, religion will be the "key determinant for obtaining Indian citizenship", with "communal, anti-Muslim bias inbuilt" into it.
"Part of the strategy to consolidate majority Hindu sentiment is by continuously stoking the fire of communal difference, hatred and intolerance while remaining strategically silent when violence engulfed India through lynchings, mob killings and mass violence in the last few years", the statement said.

Text:

PUCL deplores the promulgation of the Citizenship (Amendment) Act (CAA), 2019 on December 12, as a law which renders asunder the basic structure of India’s constitutional scheme founded on the stated goals of secularism, respect for diversity and peaceful coexistence of all communities, without distinction of community, caste, creed or other differences.
PUCL declares that, collectively with others, it will work towards restoration of universal principles of citizenship in India. The key thrust of the new Citizenship Act changes the essence of the Constitution, altering the basic principles of universality of citizenship which was obtained irrespective of race, sex, religion, and place of birth.
Citizenship now will have religion as a key determinant for obtaining Indian citizenship since the Citizens (Amendment) Bill (CAB) will now include all religions of the region (Hinduism, Sikhism, Jainism, Buddhism, Parsis and Christians) while very conspicuously excluding Islam.
While the CAB hides behind the veil of being in favour of persecuted minorities of the three neighboring Muslim majority countries, the pith and substances of the Amendment strips away the secular value of the Constitution which "We, the people of India" had given to ourselves.
It is a matter of supreme irony that while the rest of the world woke up to December 10, 2019, celebrated globally as International Human Rights Day, we in India woke up on December 10 to witness the virtual desecration of the key human rights principles enshrined in the Indian Constitution which values respecting diversity, ensuring equality amongst all communities and promoting co-existence, secularism and communal harmony.
In the early hours of December 10, 2019, the Lok Sabha voted in favour of differentiating and discriminating persecuted people who seek refuge in India in terms of `Muslims versus other religions’.
The dark irony in the deliberate action of the NDA government brazenly rushing through a discriminatory draconian law on human rights day was not lost on the rest of the world, as numerous countries condemned the passage of the communally-oriented Citizenship Amendment Bill. The most odious aspect of the CAA is the communal, anti-Muslim bias inbuilt into the law.
Thus, a law meant to protect people who face `religiously persecution’ in countries neighbouring India and seeking refuge in our country, provides that only persons belonging to `minority’ communities like Hindus, Sikhs, Buddhists, Jains, Parsis and Christians from the Muslim majority countries of Pakistan, Bangladesh and Afghanistan will not be treated as `illegal migrants’.
Though the terms `religious persecution’ and 'minority community’ are not present in the CAA itself, it refers to the Rules under the Foreigners Act, 2016 which clearly refer to these terms.
Even if religious persecution is the criteria, the flaws and contradictions in this legal formulation stands exposed by the fact that there are numerous communities within the larger Muslim community in Pakistan who face immense 'religious persecution’.
The Ahmadiya community, the Shia Muslims and the Balochs have historically been facing harsh persecution with repeated bombings, mass killings and immense violence at the hands of the dominant Sunni Muslim community in Pakistan.
Similarly the 'Hazara’ community in Afghanistan, also face religious persecution forcing them to seek exile in other countries, including India. Religious persecution is not only inter-religious; but as we can see the various Islamic sects with different practices are also under immense violent persecution.
It is really sad as how the CAA has deliberately left out of the ambit of the definition of `religiously persecuted minorities’ the tens of thousands of Rohingya Muslim refugees who have been declared as the most persecuted community of the world, facing ethnic cleansing and genocide from the murderous Buddhist Myanmar military regime.
All these cases are deserving of grant of citizenship by a civilized country, for being victims of the inhuman provisions of the religion patronised by their government. Equally condemnable is that the CAA is silent on providing protection to over hundred thousand Sri Lankan Tamil refugees who fled the 30-year war and ethnic cleansing in north Sri Lanka and who have been in India for periods ranging from 10 to 30 years.
Sri Lanka has recently seen a regime change with Gotabaya Rajapakse, accused by the Tamils as the architect of the genocidal war in 2008-09, as the new President of Sri Lanka. In these circumstances it’s impossible for the Sri Lankan refugees in India to have confidence to go back to Sri Lanka.
The BJP government has mercilessly dumped these Tamil refugees to the dustbin of history, a shameful commentary on the international image of India as a country of peace.
It is well know that from the time of independence, India has offered sanctuary to so many persecuted people from all around South Asia, from the Dalai Lama and Tibetans who fled in 1959 when China invaded Tibet to refugees from many other war torn nations from across Asia and Africa. We have now lost the moral high ground in our very subcontinent.
It is ominously clear that the Modi-Shah-led BJP Government is determined on pushing through all means available in its political armoury, its stated agenda of forcing India to become a de facto 'Hindu Rashtra’ even though declaring it in law (de jure) may take some more time.
Part of the strategy to consolidate majority Hindu sentiment is by continuously stoking the fire of communal difference, hatred and intolerance while remaining strategically silent when violence engulfed India through lynchings, mob killings and mass violence in the last few years.
CAA, accompanied by the declaration of forcing the National Register of Citizens (NRC) on the whole country is the lethal project of subordinating Muslims to virtually become second class citizens in their own country.
What the CAA and nationwide NRC will accomplish is much more sinister: It will unleash insecurity amongst Muslims throughout India in a scale hitherto not experienced. 
The NRC Assam process has demonstrated that over 19 lakh citizens got left out from the NRC with more than 12 lakh Hindus and Indigenous people failing to prove their Indian citizenship.  In the whole country these numbers could swell to an unimaginable high figure. Even in Assam the 12 lakh Hindus and Indigenous people cannot be made stateless. 
CAA is aimed at meeting that contingency by giving citizenship to Hindus, Sikh, Buddhists, Jains, Christians, and Parsis i.e. to all except the Muslims. Thus, the CAA serves several of their purposes: it grants citizenship to all "illegal immigrants" except Muslims by excluding and creating a second, subordinated class of citizens. Who will then have restricted rights, apart from being in detention centres.
With the abrogation of Article 370 of the Constitution, internet lockdown, blackout of all leaders in Kashmir, the Ayodhya-Babri Masjid decision by the SC in favour of the Hindu Community, the nationwide National Register of Citizens (NRC) and now the CAA -- the Hindu Rashtra project of the Sangh seems to be a reality and not a far flung prophecy: it is here to stay.
Our country is passing through one of the most serious crises to its existence as a secular, democratic republic. It is extremely vital that all democratically minded citizens join hands to oppose the CAA.
PUCL will work with other human rights groups, constitutionally minded and concerned citizens to oppose the CAA and NRC, scheduled to be rolled out throughout India.
PUCL gives a call to all concerned citizens to follow Gandhiji’s method of civil disobedience and to resist the nationwide NRC process and the implementation of the CAA through non-violent means and non-cooperation and urge the people of India to save democracy and rule of law in the country.

Comments

TRENDING

Savarkar 'criminally betrayed' Netaji and his INA by siding with the British rulers

By Shamsul Islam*
RSS-BJP rulers of India have been trying to show off as great fans of Netaji. But Indians must know what role ideological parents of today's RSS/BJP played against Netaji and Indian National Army (INA). The Hindu Mahasabha and RSS which always had prominent lawyers on their rolls made no attempt to defend the INA accused at Red Fort trials.

India under Modi among top 10 autocratizing nations, on verge of 'losing' democracy status

By Rajiv Shah
A new report, prepared by a top Swedish institute studying liberal democracy, has observed that there has been a sharp “dive in press freedom along with increasing repression of civil society in India associated with the current Hindu-nationalist regime of Prime Minister Narendra Modi.” The report places India among the top 10 countries that “have autocratized the most”. Other countries that have been identified for rolling towards autocracy are -- Hungary, Turkey, Poland, Serbia, Brazil, Mali, Thailand, Nicaragua and Zambia.

RSS supremo Deoras 'supported' Emergency, but Indira, Sanjay Gandhi 'didn't respond'

By Shamsul Islam*
National Emergency was imposed on the country by then Prime Minister Indira Gandhi on June 25-26, 1975, and it lasted for 19 months. This period is considered as ''dark times' for Indian democratic polity. Indira Gandhi claimed that due to Jaiprakash Narayan's call to the armed forces to disobey the 'illegal' orders of Congress rulers had created a situation of anarchy and there was danger to the existence of Indian Republic so there was no alternative but to impose Emergency under article 352 of the Constitution.

Letter to friends, mentors: Coming together of class, communal, corona viruses 'scary'

By Prof (Dr) Mansee Bal Bhargava*
COVID greetings from Ahmedabad to dear mentors and friends from around the world…
I hope you are keeping well and taking care of yourself besides caring for the people around you. I’m writing to learn how is the science and the society coping with the prevention and cure of the pandemic. I’m also writing to share the state of the corona virus that is further complicated with the long-standing class and communal viruses.

Hurried nod to Western Ghat projects: 16 lakh Goans' water security 'jeopardised'

Counterview Desk
Taking strong exception to "virtual clearances" to eco-sensitive projects in the Western Ghats, the National Alliance of People’s Movements (NAPM) in a statement has said urged for a review of the four-lane highway, 400 KV transmission line and double tracking of the railway line through the Bhagwan Mahavir Wildlife Sanctuary and Mollem National Park in Goa.

Disturbing signal? Reliance 'shifting focus' away from Indian petrochemical sector

By NS Venkataraman*
Reliance Industries Ltd (RIL), a large Indian company, has expanded and grown in a spectacular manner during the last few decades, like of which no industrial group in India has performed before. RIL is now involved in multi various activities relating to petroleum refineries, petrochemicals, oil and gas exploration, coal bed methane, life sciences, retail business, communication network, (Jio platform) media/entertainment etc.

Case for nationalising India's healthcare system amidst 'strong' private control

Counterview Desk
A draft discussion note, prepared by Dr Maya Valecha, a Gujarat-based gynecologist and activist, sent to the People's Union for Civil Liberties (PUCL) as also a large number of activists, academics and professionals as an email alert, is all set to create a flutter among policy experts for its strong insistence on nationalizing India’s healthcare system.

Oxfam on WB project: ICT 'ineffective', privatised learning to worsen gender divide

By Rajiv Shah 
A top multinational NGO, with presence in several developed and developing countries, has taken strong exception to the World Bank part-funding Strengthening Teaching-Learning and Results for States (STARS) project in six Indian states – Himachal Pradesh, Kerala, Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra and Odisha – for its emphasis on information and communication technology (ICT)-enabled approaches for teacher development, student assessment and digital platform for early childhood education.

Coal blocks for tycoons: Rinchi village tribals may be declared forest land encroachers

By Gladson Dungdung*
On June 18, 2020, the Government of India initiated the process for auctioning 41 coal blocks for commercialisation. These coal blocks are located in different states within India and most of them fall under Fifth Schedule areas. The Indian government claims that their decision to auction these coal areas is a big step towards making the country Atmanirbhar Bharat (self-reliant) in the energy sector.