A Few Points To Sum Up the NRC, CAA And, Well, Nazism

Considering my pedestrian background, it might seem unlikely that I outperform some of our better thinkers, better writers or even some bigoted minds. But, I just might have some comprehensive views up my sleeve, considering a slew of evenings dedicated to understanding the bottom line of the matter.

What has led to the general uproar? Why are the students, who could just as easily focus on minding their business and earn a degree, standing united to protest against a certain Act? Why is the resiliency of this country, and its inhabitants as a whole, being tried, tested, and driven to its brink, repeatedly? 

Protests in solidarity with students in the aftermath of attacks on AMU and Jamia Milia Islamia.

All these questions drove me to study and delve a little deeper than the ground level, where most nationalists are floating in, laughing their way through the internet, having forgotten the only essence underlying the tragedy of it all—compassion, benevolence, and humanity.

I admit to feeling protected and privileged to be writing this from the comfort of my home, and not be holed up in a university’s library, caught in the most unfortunate situation. 

I will try to be both extensive and comprehensive in my approach to understand the original Citizenship Act, NRC, CAA and identify the most elemental similarities between the present Government’s ideologies and ‘Nazism’.

The Original Citizenship Act

The Indian government passed the Citizenship Act in 1955, which prohibited ‘illegal’ migrants from obtaining Indian citizenship. The act defined ‘illegal migrants’ as citizens of other countries, who entered India without valid travel documents, or who remained in the country beyond the period permitted by their travel documents. It also allowed these individuals to be deported or jailed. 

Social activists set fire to posters about the National Register of Citizens (NRC) and other civil rights’ issues like the Citizenship Amendment Bill 2019 (CAB) as they demonstrate against the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) led central government, during a protest in Kolkata on December 11, 2019. (Photo by Dibyangshu SARKAR / AFP)

India is not a signatory to the 1951 UN Refugee Convention and does not have a national policy on refugees. While India has been willing to host refugees, its traditional position, formulated by Nehru, is that such refugees must return to their home countries after the situation returns to normal.

Let’s Examine The Intricate Details Of The NRC

The NRC (National Register of Citizens) requires people to produce documents of ancestry, to be enlisted as Indian citizens. This exercise was meant to “throw out infiltrators” in the overburdened state of Assam, to keep its ethnic uniqueness unaltered. But, this has only seemed to have deepened the divide between different cultural groups in the state, bringing back memories of unrest of the 1980s. 

NRC, as some have said to be “ethnic cleansing” is reminiscent of the expulsion of Rohingya Muslims from Myanmar. 

Representational image.

What Would A Pan-Indian NRC Mean?

TOI pointed out how, ever since its implementation, there has been a growing demand for the nationwide implementation of the NRC. A legislation that will enable the government to identify illegal infiltrators, detain them and finally deport them “where they came from” has been suggested (there is a reason this phrase sounds familiar and uncomfortable).

The proposed nation-wide NRC, if implemented, is supposed to target ‘illegal’ immigrants in India. Nothing sounds fishy here until we start to look at the fine print: 

  1. Religiously persecuted Hindus, Christians, Sikhs, Buddhists, Jains, and Parsis from Afghanistan, Pakistan, and Bangladesh won’t be affected.
  2. Any illegal immigrant from anywhere other than these three nations will be deported.
  3. Muslims are conspicuously absent from the groups to whom citizenship is offered in the Act. Where the Act limits itself to the Muslim-majority neighbors of India, it very conveniently takes no cognizance of the persecuted Muslims of those countries.

The fear is that nation-wide NRC could prove disastrous where residents could be profiled on the basis of their religion and stripped of their citizenship overnight.

Taking the Assam model to the entire nation will be akin to asking 125 crore Indians to reapply for citizenship.

The fact remains that keeping true to their style of improper research, erroneous judgment and inaccurate determination of outcome (a la Demonetisation), this fascist government has hastily imposed on us the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA).

I cannot help but shake the feeling that a dangerous precedent is about to be set which not only lays bare their deep-seated religious bias. But also, this sort-of “rush to meet dead-line on its promised election manifesto” seems like a breaking ground for greater evil that is yet to unfurl.

Credit: Gaurav Kashyap Dutta/Twitter.

On that note, I would like to point out some similarities between our present government’s ideologies to the Nazis, and how anti-Semitism was introduced in subtle doses, as if experimenting with a new drug and testing the vulnerability. 

  • “The Reich Citizenship Law declared that only ‘Aryans’ were Reich citizens. As Jews were considered non-‘Aryan’, this law stripped them of their German citizenship and made them stateless in their own country.”

    Some might argue this is far-fetched and that the Indian Muslims are ‘safe’, and it is only the ‘illegal’ Muslim immigrants that need to fear the system. But, it is only a matter of time, I believe. Small steps
    .

 

  • “The ‘Polenaktion’ was the movement of thousands of Jews in October 1938 by the SS and German police, who had been born in Poland but were living in Germany, back to Poland. When the Polish Jews arrived in Poland, Polish guards sent them back to Germany, and they were then stuck between the two borders without food or shelter in difficult conditions. This happened in the wake of Kristallnacht, which was a series of violent antisemitic attacks which took place across Germany.”
A concentration camp under Nazi Germany.

If you recognise the pattern, you know where this is coming from and where it has the potential to lead us.

  • “A large number of holding camps were created in the second half of 1930. These camps designated certain areas of the cities or towns where Roma could live. The camps were created individually by the different regional governments, varying from city to city and between states.

    The initial Roma camps were portrayed as a move to clean up inner cities and remove any unauthorised dwellings in municipal areas, which often attracted complaints. The camps varied, but most had limited sanitation and were guarded by police or SS officer.
    This was, however, simply the beginning. Following the outbreak of the Second World War, the nature of the camps changed. The rules became stricter, with increased supervision, curfews, and daily head-counts of the occupants. In October 1939, a decree was issued banning the movement of Roma. People in the camps also became subject to compulsory labour.”

Why Is Assam Protesting?

A majority of Assamese fear that the CAA will lead to lakhs of Hindus from Bangladesh swamping indigenous communities, burdening resources and threatening their language, culture, and traditions. The CAA has a 2014 cut-off date, but protesters say that Assam bore the brunt of immigrants from 1951 to 1971, while other states did not, and that it is unfair to impose more on the state. Protesters say they do not trust the Centre and CAB will undo the Assam Accord.

Protests against the CAA.

Since the implementation of the CAA, tens of thousands of civilians have descended on the streets to protest the act, amidst the 5,000 paramilitary personnel, who have been air-lifted to the NE states, with the army on standby with instructions to incite violence. Internet services had been suspended in 10 districts in Assam and across Tripura. 

Assam bargained for the NRC and got stuck with the NRC-CAA (the greater evil) instead. Their uneasiness is real- the influx of Hindu ‘illegal’ immigrants, who might eventually be granted citizenship (under CAA), will outnumber the locals, wiping their ‘ethnic integrity.’

This leads to a pesky question – Is the government actually trying to conserve the ethnic and demographic shift in Assam or squeezing in their pro-Hindutva agenda masquerading under NRC-CAA?

The Jamia And AMU Protests

Students in New Delhi’s Jamia Millia Islamia (JMI) and Uttar Pradesh state’s Aligarh Muslim University (AMU) have been protesting since the new law was passed.

More than 100 students have been injured in India after baton-wielding police charged at them and fired tear gas at two federally-run universities where students were holding anti-Citizenship Act protests. The police then stormed the JMI campus and fired tear gas into some classrooms, libraries and attacked students in their hostel rooms. According to some reports, students praying at a mosque were also attacked.

Delhi police attack unharmed students in and around Jamia Millia Campus. Image credit: Twitter

After everything we have witnessed over the past few days, if your only argument is “they shouldn’t have pelted stones” then you have seriously regressed into the territory of ignorance.

Maximum restraint, minimum violence” is a practiced slogan that has been reiterated over the years in the wake of horrible misjudgment and active violence. Please come up with a believable excuse this time, Delhi Police. Or better yet, behave independently of the Centre’s influence.

How many lives have to be destroyed before we get a direction of what is happening in the country? How many students have to be beaten and jailed in the name of nationalism before we see through the veil? Are we that comfortable in our zone that we cannot empathise with the less fortunate? Do we have to be personally affected to start paying attention?

Representational image.

The bottom-line seems to be that if you have to coexist in a ‘secular’ India, you better not be a Muslim. 

Sanjiv Bhatt, an IPS officer said, If you are emotionally attached to your religion, caste or political leaning to the point that truth and justice become secondary considerations, then your education is useless, your exposure is useless. If you can’t reason beyond petty sentiments, you are a liability to mankind

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