An Act passed by the parliament which looks a harmless, benign and innocent from the outside and
is a positive, enabling legislation has raised eyebrows for people not just inside the country but also internationally. No, I am not talking about the Data Protection Bill, which gives immense powers to the government regarding data and consequently, privacy. How can I talk about that bill anyway, a bill that no one knows about? I want to talk about the other one who most people talk but know a little about. Yes, the Citizenship Amendment Act, passed by the parliament in December 2019.
Even after reading the Act, it looks like a simple Act, which talks about not considering a few religions from certain countries residing in India since a certain date as illegal immigrants and changing the time of residence before they can apply for the citizenship of the country from 11 years to 5 years minimum. But, read between the lines.
Now for a person who does not know law or citizenship acts or a person having some knowledge but being constantly bombarded by the misinformation and memes from all sides, this Act has created a lot of confusion. People are divided into two clear divisions: one who oppose it and are protesting and others who don’t see any reason to protest against such a harmless bill and label the protesters as pro-Pakistanis or anti-national, Urban Naxals, etc.
There is a faction who is protesting and rallying in support of this passed bill, but this faction is too much advance in their way of thinking that I don’t see myself worthy of commenting anything on them. There was a miss call campaign initiated by the government recently. For a government which acts like “Big Boss” this was expected, right?
So roughly speaking, there are six religions, three countries and a date (31st December 2014), which are key aspects of this bill. Let’s try to read between the lines and try point out the iceberg beneath the tip.
Six religions are mentioned in the bill, and the argument made by the opposition was that Muslims couldn’t be religiously persecuted in Islamic countries. ‘But wait, where did the term religious persecution come from?’, one might ask, as I said earlier, we need to read between the lines maybe it was written with invisible ink. Now that we see the word hypothetically written in the bill, I miss a
religion which is atheism.
Interestingly, this is one faction which is one of the most prosecuted minority in the world. Also, it is the third major religion (if we call it so) with 16 per cent of the population believing (or disbelieving). I can understand not writing about other religions such as Baha’is because that would have taken too much space in the bill, and it would not have been aesthetically appealing.
The Act takes three countries into account. The only thing common between them is being Muslim majority countries because religious prosecution (yes, the invisible phrase) can happen in Muslim majority countries. What about Rohingyas you will ask, well, that was an exception, and what about the Indian Tamils in Sri Lanka, well, we can have more than one exception, right?
What about the Madhesis in Nepal? Well, it is an exception amongst exceptions. Okay, let’s come out of this exception option and look at what the government has to say about the religions: “India was divided based on religion that’s why we needed such a bill.” I must say I was really moved upon hearing those words; indeed, India and Afghanistan’s partition, done on the basis of religion was so painful!
I feel the pain our Prime Minister feels when he says these religions are being persecuted in our neighboring countries daily. We must ensure to end their suffering by giving citizenship to those who came to India before a certain date. But what about the ones who are currently facing the atrocities and religious persecution (yes, the invisible word) in the neighborhood?
The people asking this haven’t sadly studied physics, if we give citizenship to those residing in our country, it will have an induced effect through electromagnetic induction to those in the neighborhood, and they will feel safer and happier.
Interestingly, it is just like saying that animals are treated badly in the Zoo and circus, so we will treat the animals in the jungle with love and affection while doing nothing about the animals employed in the circus, and we are also saying that the animals who ran away from there after a date would not be benefitted.
The CAA was incomplete, sad and felt no purpose in life, then it heard about NRC (National Register for Citizens), and it thought that finally, it had found its purpose. After creating much chaos in Assam, taking six years to complete, and yes, 1600 crore rupees to produce highly inaccurate results, NRC was ready to take on the whole country.
After teaching an English word “chronology” to the Hindi speaking belt of the country, it was assured of its triumph. But the news of its affair with CAA reached the ears of people, and it got into trouble so much that the Prime Minister had to try his best in the distortion of facts and a few lies, and the Home Minister had to take back that chronology word.
Again, understand this through the Zoo analogy, CAA gives protection and care to six species of animals in the jungle, but the jungle is already so safe and secure that’s why there was a fundamental need of some kind of trouble the species had to be saved from. So NRC is like a wildfire, where every animal that is hiding would have to come out, and the government is ready to protect the six species of animals who had been there before a certain date. So, without the fire (NRC), there is no safety mechanism (CAA) needed.
Not many people can read invisible lines in the bill, so they are still confused about the reason of protests, and they are thinking that they are supporting the zoo and the circus. But people are protesting in huge numbers, especially Muslims and students from various states, cultural groups, and religions.
The ruling party, already in trouble due to the increasing unemployment rate, decreasing GDP growth, an economy in a tailspin, worldwide criticism about the decisions in Kashmir, poor governance, etc., wanted something chaotic to buy time till it tries to fix the situation. And the protests generated the ideal condition for drawing attention elsewhere than the core issues. Additionally, it gives the government a chance to portray the protesters as the enemy which the state is fighting.
This government always needs to buy time to fix the problems caused by itself and is always in
search of an enemy to blame—Pakistan being the evergreen one, pseudo-seculars, urban
Naxals, tukde-tukde gang, Khan Market gang, being a few of them.
As citizens, we should not be distracted by these imaginary enemies and ask questions that really matter for the future of the country. And at least read the bill without the glasses of religion—because if tomorrow there is a fire in the jungle, it will not affect certain species but every weak and poor species (poor and deprived people) irrespective of their religion, caste or creed.