Article 14 and 15 of the Indian Constitution talk about giving every person equality before the law within the territory of India, prohibiting any discrimination on grounds of religion, race, caste, sex or place of origin.
On December 9, the Lok Sabha passed the Citizenship Amendment Bill (CAB) 2019 which read that “any person belonging to Hindu, Sikh, Buddhist, Jain, Parsi or Christian community from Afghanistan, Bangladesh or Pakistan, who entered into India on or before the 31st day of December, 2014 … shall not be treated as illegal migrant“. The only religion that this Bill leaves out is Islam.
This bigoted, communal, and discriminatory bill got 293 votes in its favor and sailed swiftly through the Lower House of Parliament. The bill was proposed by someone who had, in the run-up to the 2019 elections, said that “infiltrators are termites” who should be thrown out of India. That is exactly what he is doing by bringing in the CAB because, obviously, only a Muslim immigrant is a termite. Through this move, the BJP-led NDA has slapped every person who believes in the idea of India on the face.
Dressed in a saffron ‘Modi jacket’ in the Parliament yesterday, Home Minister Amit Shah argued that these six religious minorities face prosecution and discrimination in Afghanistan, Bangladesh, and Pakistan and hence it is India’s responsibility to give them shelter.
He said that Bill is not non-discriminatory and a means to correct the wrongs of partition. However, the US Commission for International Religious Freedom issued a statement on Monday, December 10, that the bill is a “dangerous turn in the wrong direction,” and suggested sanctions against Home Minister Amit Shah if the Bill is passed in both houses of the Parliament.
The European Union Ambassador to India, Ugo Astuto, said that the Principle of equality is enshrined in the Indian Constitution and they hope that it will be upheld.
The state of Assam is facing a bandh after huge protests against the CAB and NRC. The whole of the North-East is out on the roads against this communal Bill. The Left parties also staged a protest outside the Parliament. Protests have been carried out in Pune and parts of Bihar.
Prashant Kishore, Vice President of JD(U) and former political strategist of Narendra Modi who had coined slogans like Abki Baar Modi Sarkar, said that he is disappointed to see his party supporting the CAB, which discriminates right of citizenship on the basis of religion.
Disappointed to see JDU supporting #CAB that discriminates right of citizenship on the basis of religion.
It's incongruous with the party's constitution that carries the word secular thrice on the very first page and the leadership that is supposedly guided by Gandhian ideals.
— Prashant Kishor (@PrashantKishor) December 9, 2019
Ironically, in 2015, Prime Minister Modi had said in the Parliament that just because we have a majority, it does not give us a right to do anything as per our whims and fancies. Unfortunately, you and your party have failed us today, Mr. Prime Minister. I feel that today is a black day in the history of India just like May 19, 1986, when the Rajiv Gandhi government passed the Muslim Women (Protection of Rights on Divorce) Act overturning the Supreme Court judgement on Shah Bano case.
A few months ago, Amit Shah had told those who were missed out of the National Registry of Citizens (NRC) need not worry because we are bringing in the CAB. What he did not say was that when a person is trying to be a part of the NRC, they will submit documents to prove that they are an Indian citizen. But, if they want to get citizenship under the CAB, they will first have to prove that they are a non-Indian citizen, either a Bangladeshi, a Pakistani, or an Afghani, who entered India before December 31, 2014.
How do you expect people from states like Assam to submit documents in favour of their citizenship when the state witnesses flood almost every year. When floods come, you run to save your life and not to save the documents from the 50s or 60s. The fate of millions of people os based on submission of documents in a country where the Prime Minister, Narendra Modi and former Education Minister, Smriti Irani still have not produced their graduation certificates in the public domain.
When you claim to be a party which furthers Hindu interests, why have you left behind the Hindus of Sri Lanka on your list? Or maybe, as former UN Under-Secretary-General and Congress MP, Shashi Tharoor, is right when he says that you’re interested only in the Hindi-speaking Hindus!
When you talk about giving shelter to prosecuted minorities, why are you leaving behind the Tamils of Sri Lanka, the Shias of Afghanistan, the Ahmadi Muslims of Pakistan, and the Rohingyas of Myanmar? Is their pain lesser than the pains of the six religious groups you mentioned in the Bill?
Why did you leave behind China at all? The world knows the plight of Uighur Muslims of China who are detained in camps and the Tibetan Buddhists who face discrimination of all forms. Why this favoritism, then? Maybe, because you know that you can handle Pakistan, Bangladesh, and Afghanistan but not China on international platforms.
Today, the government has proved that if you give them a majority, they will act only for their own interests. They will leave no stone unturned to make sure that their voter base remains happy. They are making a mockery of democracy because they know that the opposition is considered to be irrelevant today. I just hope that this is not the beginning of the end.