The supporters of Citizenship Amendment Act refer to our constitutional morality towards the persecuted minorities of the world. The government has very smartly molded the definition of morality to suit their purpose. The law allows only six religions from three nations to apply through the new Amendment – categorically excluding Muslims and other prosecuted minorities. The government supports its decision by citing our old Indian morals, of being welcoming to people from all strata. However, it is mistaken about our morals. It forgets that it has no right to limit our morality.
In 1949, during Constituent Assembly discussions, on questions of “who is a citizen of India and who is not,” Jawaharlal Nehru replied, “So far as refugees are concerned…we accept as citizens anybody who calls himself a citizen of India.” He was clearly referring to anyone who lived in erstwhile India.
Thakur Das Bhargava, another sane voice of Constituent Assembly said, “If any nationalist Musalman who is afraid of the Muslims of East Pakistan or West Pakistan come to India…It is our duty to see that he is protected.” Such was this country’s greatness and extent of morality, even before the nation was actually born – on November 26, 1949.
The constitution itself is vague about its own responsibilities, to an extent that it has enshrined the judiciary, the right to judge between justice and revenge. Previously, it only laid down rules and trusted judiciary with its interpretation.
If it was really about the nation and its constitutional morality, the Act must be extended to others. The Ahmadiyyas of Pakistan, Tamilians of Sri Lanka and atheists, to name a few. Thousands of Sri Lankan Tamilians are living as refugees in Tamil Nadu, awaiting citizenship. The second amendment to the constitution of Pakistan declared Ahamadiyyas to be non-Muslims; even the right to follow their religion has been snatched from them.
As a secular nation, we must not allow our leaders to limit our morality to suit their own purpose. Constitutional morality is not a jotted down line but a constantly evolving species that tantamount to a nation’s morality. We must not let it get contaminated by the conservative morality of some archaic leaders.