The CAA in itself isn’t the cause of protests, although, almost everyone who is protesting is dismayed at the erosion of secular ethos, and introduction of religion, as a means of citizenship. However, I believe, the anger and concern are primarily reserved for the intended collaboration of CAA with NRC.
CAA can’t be viewed alone and it isn’t meant to be. Amit Shah himself said “CAA and NRC are together”, and this is causing the unrest across the country. With the assertion of implementation of NRC and CAA together, the whole façade of giving citizenship to the persecuted peels off.
If the CAA is meant for the citizenship of religiously persecuted minorities, other than Muslims, then why keep it open, even after the implementation of NRC? Why would the “persecuted minorities” of Afghanistan, Pakistan and Bangladesh wait till NRC is over to avail the citizenship? If they are “refugees/illegal immigrants” shouldn’t they submit now and claim the citizenship? Why keep the CAA door open even after the NRC?
If you really want to assuage the anger of protestors, then set an expiry date for CAA, which must be prior to the implementation of NRC. So, at least for optics, the NRC will appear to be equal for all. It’s government prerogative to have CAA and NRC, but as the article 14 of our constitution says “The state shall not deny to any person equality before the law or the equal protection of the laws within the territory of India”.
The law must be equal to all, which doesn’t seem so, with the proposed implementation of NRC and CAA. If the government can’t de-link them and set an expiry date for CAA, prior to the implementation of NRC, then the obvious interpretation is that NRC is a tool to strip off the nationality of as many Muslims as possible, and put them in concentration camps or detention centres.
Repeated opaque, meaningless, patronising, and condescending statements like “There is nothing to fear” serve no purpose especially when there is a severe trust deficit.
The real protests haven’t begun yet, as most people haven’t realised the severity of the ignominy the NRC will cast upon them. The abomination of proving ourselves Indian to the government will befall every citizen of this country, regardless of religion. And if the NRC will be on similar lines as that of Assam’s, then a conspicuous number of Adivasi, Tribal, Banjara, and rural citizens are poised to get vexed, despite BJP throwing the safety net of CAA for them.
Even the Hindus, Sikhs, Christians, Buddhists, Jains and Parsees (Zoroastrians) who fail at NRC test (submitting the legacy documents) will have to accept that they were “intruders/illegal immigrants/refugees” before claiming the citizenship via CAA.
Yes, the real suffering will be reserved for Muslim citizens who fail at NRC, as they won’t just have to face the humiliation of getting branded as “intruders” in their own country, but they will also have to face the detention (concentration) camps. And the Muslims who made it to NRC too shall have to live in fear, for the rest of their lives.