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Top Congress leader Mistry suggests solution to end 'impasse' by amending CAA

Martin Macwan explaining Constitution house
By Rajiv Shah
A senior Congress leader, considered close to interim party president Sonia Gandhi, has suggested a way out of the current impasse on the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA), which is being opposed across India for making religion as the basis for providing citizenship to the persecuted minorities from three neighbouring countries -- Pakistan, Bangladesh and Afghanistan.
Referring to the CAA provision that identifies religious minorities from the three countries -- Hindus, Sikhs, Jains, Buddhists, Parsis, Christians -- for providing citizenship, Madhusudan Mistry, Congress MP, Rajya Sabha, told a well-attended Dalit rights meet off Ahmedabad that, an amendment should be introduced to remove the names of these religions. "In place of that, the words that could be introduced are 'persecuted minorities'," he said. "This is my personal view", he later told Counterview.
Pointing out that the only other option before the Government of India is to abrogate CAA or face the ire of those opposing it, Mistry, who has long worked as a civil society leader in the eastern tribal belt fighting for Adivasis' rights before joining politics in Gujarat, and has fought Lok Sabha election from Vadodara against Prime Minister Narendra Modi, said, "To believe that only specific religious minorities of those countries are facing persecution is travesty of truth."
Madhusudan Mistry
According to him, oppressed sections, irrespective of religious persuasion, face worst type of persecution in these as well as other countries. Those facing persecution include human rights activists, and there is no reason why they should be ignored while offering Indian citizenship. The only purpose of coming up with CAA was to bring about a division on religious lines between Hindus and Muslims, he added.
The meet was called at the Dalit Shakti Kendra (DSK) in Sanand taluka of Ahmedabad district, where colourful wooden Constitution houses measuring 8 inches X 6 inches X 6 inches were released for distribution among 2,000-odd Dalit activists, gathered from across India and Gujarat to discuss the impact of CAA, National Population Register (NPR) and the proposed National Register of Citizens (NRC) on marginalised communities.
With basic provisions of the Indian Constitution printed on all the four walls of the wooden structure, the aim of the meet was to propagate their fundamentals relating to equality before law, irrespective of religion, caste, creed, race, language or gender, at a time when protests are taking place across India calling CAA, NPR and NRC anti-constitutional. The word ‘Equality’ is embossed at the gate of the Constitution house, conceptualised by Martin Macwan, Dalit rights leader and founder of Navsarjan Trust.
Speaking on the occasion, a human rights activist from Assam, which has become the hub of anti-CAA protests, told the Dalit participants that her interaction with many of the protesters at the Shaheen Bagh in Delhi made her realise that majority of those who are opposing CAA, NPR and NRC with copies of the Preamble, photos of Dr BR Ambedkar and the tricolour do not know what is there in the Constitution.
Macwan's Constitutional house, she said, would help activists like her to explain in simple words the basics of the Indian Constitution to the people, and how CAA, NPR and NRC fall outside its framework. Representatives from dozen-odd other states at the meet took a similar view, stating, the wooden structure, prepared in 22 languages, would be handy in making protesters as also people in general realise why CAA-NRC-NPR contradict the Constitution.
Explaining the need for the Constitutional house, Macwan said, instead of writing a long article, the DSK and Navsarjan team had created the wooden structure to explain the basic tenets of the Constitution in simple words. Prepared the guidance of Ambedkar, who studied the legal frameworks of France, America and Britain, apart from other countries, the Indian Constitution adopted the best that is available across the globe for the Indian context.
Bezwada Wilson
The idea of the Constitution house, he said, came after he found that while people, especially Dalits, did know that the Indian Constitution had been authored by Ambedkar, they have no idea about what it was it about and what it said. He added, it is extremely important for people to know the basics of the Constitution. If they know what's written in it, they will themselves begin their struggle against the injustice meted out to them.
Speaking on the occasion, prominent Gujarat jurist Jyotsna Yagnik, former special trial judge for Gujarat's famous 2002 Naroda Patiya massacre case, said that the Constitution, and not individual rulers, should decide the rule of law, insisting on the need to help the marginalized communities with “free and competent” legal aid. Minar Pimple, who has been associated with top world NGOs Oxfam and Amnesty International, stressed on the need to take the Constitution house not just to the people but also police stations.
Magsaysay award winning anti-manual scavenging campaigner Bezwada Wilson told the meet that the Constitutional provisions, as conceptualised by Ambedkar, and not by “one person”, should decide the future of the country. Regretting that, in practice, the Indian rulers were still following the ancient treatise Manusmriti, which legalised casteism, he said, if the Constitution was the sure guide to freedom, Manusmriti seeks to make people slaves.
One can see how this is happening, he noted. Those speaking for azadi or freedom were being arrested and dissent was being crushed. The basic spirit of the Constitution, of freedom of expression, was being undermined. There was a need to go to the streets to defend the Constitution. The Prime Minister and the President should realise that they are equal citizens of the country and are not law and the Indian Constitution.
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Inquiries for receiving Consitution house are pouring in. Those seeking the Constitution house are requested to write to Mr Chatur Parmar. Email id: chatur.parmar@gmail.com

Comments

Uma said…
Good suggestion from and for sane people. What do you do with crazy people who preach violence against the protesters. After seeing today's news about the shooting at Jamia, I feel by the time the government can do anything about the CAA (if they are going to do anything at all), there will be a lot of bloodshed and mayhem all inspired by the so-called leaders of today.

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