The Irony Of A Citizenship Act That Excludes Citizens

The Citizenship Amendment Bill (CAB) turned into an Act (CAA) on December 12, 2019, violates the Citizenship Act 1955. The minorities, precisely, the ‘illegal immigrants’ which include Hindus, Sikhs, Jains, Buddhists, Parsis and Christians from Pakistan, Bangladesh and Afghanistan are to be given citizenship in India.

December 31, 2014, is the cut-off date which means if an immigrant who has entered on or before this date is to be given citizenship. Therefore, the Citizenship Amendment Act deliberately excludes one particular community, i.e. the Muslim.

There are a few changes in the Citizenship Act 1955 that have been made. First of all, Clause (b) of sub-section (1) of section (2) is changed which previously said, “Anyone without a proper passport and travel documents is an illegal migrant,” and presently it declares that anyone without a proper passport and proper travel document except for Hindus, Sikhs, Jains, Buddhists, Parsis and Christians from Afghanistan, Bangladesh and Pakistan who entered India before December 31, 2014.

An anti-CAA protest at IIT Bombay’s campus.

The problem is why hasn’t the government included migrants from China, Myanmar and Sri Lanka in this act? Perhaps because these countries have Muslim as the minority, therefore, the Government of India has not included these countries in this Act. At least, that’s what many people are suggesting after examining the facts.

The second violation is that of the Assam Accord, which changes section 6B of Citizenship Act. The Assam Accord, 1985 was regarding identification and deportation of ‘illegal migrants’ that entered the boundary after March 25, 1971, but now it has changed, as it favours Hindus, Sikhs, Christians, Parsis, Buddhists and Jains as per section 6A. Definitely, by exempting the mentioned communities, this has violated the Accord.

Article 14 of the Indian Constitution states that, “The state shall not deny to any person equality before the law or the equal protection of the laws within the territory of India,” yet the Government of India has tried to differentiate the citizens on the basis of religion. They intentionally want one specific community to be excluded from the fundamental rights mentioned in the Constitution.

The question is: what will be the fate of the people belonging to the other communities which have been excluded from the Citizenship Amendment Act? If this was fair enough, then why isn’t the government including other people as minorities from other countries, such as Rohingya Muslims or Sri Lankan Tamils?

Coming to its relation with National Register of Citizens (NRC), which demands certain documents to prove the identity of Indian citizens. Even if a person is a registered citizen of India before 1951, they will be asked to prove their identity. Else, they will be sent to the detention camp.

Now, the discrimination is obviously against Muslims, since through the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA), minorities and ‘illegal immigrants’ will be given citizenship but not Muslims. Therefore, anyone from other religions excepting Islam will be considered a citizen of India even if they are unable to show accurate documents. However, this is supposedly a rational decision instead to caring about the sentiments of the public.

People all around the country are protesting against this biased Act since it violates the Constitution of India, fundamental rights, democracy and secularism.

Featured image source: APPSC IIT Bombay/Facebook.
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