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How CAA-NRC Will Affect Adivasi Communities: Explained In 23 Questions

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The citizens of India are protesting against the CAA and NRC. Students, women, and children, everyone is on the streets to show their resistance against the attack on the identity of every Indian. It is against the spirit of the constitution and undermines its secular character. Different sections are raising concerns about the discriminatory nature of CAA-NRC, it is against the poor, women, Dalit, Adivasis, Muslims, Atheists, etc. However, the CAA and NRC will impact Adivasis the most, the specific impacts are discussed below in a FAQ format.

1. What are CAB and CAA?
The CAB or Citizenship Amendment Bill, 2019 is a bill that has become the CAA or Citizenship Amendment Act, 2019, after it was passed in Parliament and received the President’s assent on 12 December 2019.

2. What are the main objectives of CAA?
The Citizenship Amendment Act 2019 simplifies the rules for citizenship for Hindu, Sikh, Buddhist, Jain, Zoroastrian and Christian religions migrants from Afghanistan, Pakistan and Bangladesh. In simple words, this law makes the rule easy for giving citizenship to non-Muslim immigrants.

3. Who are illegal migrants?
According to the CAA law, people who have entered into India without valid travel documents such as passports and visas, or have come with documents, but they stay there for more than the period mentioned therein, are to be treated as illegal immigrants.

4. What is NRC?
The NRC (National Citizenship Register) is a register in which records of all legitimate citizens residing in India based on various documents will be kept. So far, the NRC has been held only in Assam, in which 19 lakh people have been declared illegal immigrants, which includes Hindus, Dalits, Adivasis among others.

5. What will happen to people whose citizenship could not be verified under NRC due to a lack of papers?
If a person is unable to verify their citizenship under the NRC due to lack of papers, then he/she will be taken to the Detention Center as being done in Assam. Such detention centres are being built across the country. After this, the Government will contact those countries where they are citizens. If the evidence provided by the Government is accepted by the Government of other countries, then these illegal subjects will be sent back to their country. Otherwise, those people will have to spend the rest of their lives in these detention centres.

6. What papers will be sought from Adivasis in NRC?
To be a legal citizen of India, a person must have and show a passport, voter ID card, ration card, Aadhaar card, birth certificate, refugee registration, LIC policy or any other government-issued document under NRC.

7. What is the relationship between NPR and NRC?
NPR was introduced in the year 2003 by the Vajpayee Government by amending the Citizenship Act. It is clearly written in the rules of the Citizenship Amendment Act, 2003 that information will be collected about each family and person under NPR. This information will be investigated by a government official (local registrar). As per the given rules, the NPR test will be used to get NRC done.

8. Will the Adivasis be able to present these papers?
There are about 645 Adivasis communities in India, out of which 75 are particularly vulnerable Adivasis groups (PVTGs). The level of education among the Adivasis is very low. Many Adivasis groups such as Jarawas, Ongs, Sentinels and Shom Pens in Andaman and Nicobar; Gurjars, Bakarwals, Bots, Changpas, Baltis and Purigpas in Ladakh; Baigas in Madhya Pradesh; Birhors, Dongria-Khonds in Odisha; Sahrias in Rajasthan; Maram Nagas in Manipur; Kattu Nayakan, Kotas, Kurumbas and Irulas in Tamil Nadu; Bhil, Garasia in Gujarat, and it is very difficult for these tribes to get the documents for NRC.

9. Were such papers ever demanded from the Adivasis earlier, which they could not produce?
Yes. The Forest Rights Act, 2006 requires the Adivasis to submit papers to get their rights, which include voter ID cards, ration cards, passports, house tax receipts, domicile certificates provided by the government; physical features such as permanent improvements made to houses, huts, and land authorized documents such as levelling, buns, check dams and the like of oral statements (lack of writing) as valid evidence for their claims. Despite these simple documents, 19 lakh claims were rejected out of 44 lakh claims made by the Adivasis. On this basis, the Honorable Supreme Court on 13 February 2019 ordered these Adivasis to be taken out of the forest, on which stay order was taken later but still the rights have not been given.

10. How did it affect the Adivasis?
With the dismissal of these claims, there is a danger of these Adivasis losing their rights over the water, forest and land. There will also be no livelihood and local cultural rights of these Adivasis.

11. What will happen to Adivasis if they are unable to provide papers in NRC?
If Adivasis are not able to show paper under the NRC process, then the government can take away citizenship from the Adivasis of this country. Following this, the indigenous people of this country will be declared illegal migrants or intruders in their own land.

12. How will CAA help the Adivasis to get citizenship in this country?
The CAA provides citizenship through a process. If the Adivasis want their citizenship, they will have to declare themselves as intruders in their own country. Adivasis, when declared as illegal migrants, will be treated as second class citizenship through CAA in their own land.

13. Will the Adivasis of this country ever declare themselves as intruders to take citizenship?
The indigenous people of this country will never approve of declaring themselves as intruders in their motherland. The indigenous people of this country will not show their papers under any circumstances.

14. If the Adivasi declares themselves intruder, what will be its effect on them?
If the Adivasis chose to declare themselves as intruders to get citizenship, then they would have to show that they are followers of any one of the six religions mentioned in the CAA. This will force the Adivasis to convert their religion.

15. Would it be right for the Adivasis to accept any of the six religions?
The Adivasis of this country have their own religious beliefs and many Adivasis follow different religions at different places. In this country, Adivasis do not follow any particular religion but follow many religions like Hindu, Muslim, Christian, Buddhist, etc. Also today most of the Adivasis do not believe in any religion rather they have local religious and cultural beliefs, which they also revere as “Adi-Dharma”. Therefore, CAA will force Adivasis to change their religion in the garb of giving citizenship.

16. Will the Adivasis ever accept religious conversion?
The rights to the religious faith of the Adivasis have been protected by the Constitution.  The Adivasis will not tolerate any attack on their religious faith. No government can directly or indirectly impose any religion on them.

17. Which rights of the Adivasis will be affected due to this process?
If the Adivasis accept their conversion to get citizenship, they will be denied various rights which they have secured under the constitution. This will endanger the identity, culture,  reservation, and rights over the local resource.

18. How will this affect the reservation to the Adivasis?
The constitution of India makes provision for the reservation in the form of affirmative action to the indigenous Adivasis of this country, which cannot be shared with any intruder because they have come to this country as illegal migrants. Therefore, those Adivasis who declare themselves as intruders to get citizenship will have to lose their claim over the reservation.

19. Which constitutional rights will be violated by these laws?
Besides these, Adivasis people will also lose their right over water, forest, and land, which will thus undermine their livelihood and existence. The Adivasis will not only be homeless but the government and mining companies will seize their resources. Today, Adivasis Gram Sabhas have been given special powers in the fifth and sixth schedule areas, which will be ignored after the implementation of CAA and NRC. Atrocities on the Adivasis people will increase and they will be looked down with inferiority. Therefore, CAA and NRC are the tools brought to take away the rights of Adivasis.

20. Are Adivasis excluded from CAA and NRC or given special exemption?
It is a lie that Adivasis are excluded from CAA and NRC. The CAA does not address these concerns and declares that this law will not apply to the Sixth Schedule areas. Section 6B (4) states, “Nothing in this section shall apply to the Adivasis area of Assam, Meghalaya, Mizoram or Tripura as included in the Sixth Schedule to the Constitution and the area covered under “The Inner Line” notified under the Bengal Eastern Frontier Regulation, 1873.” The CAA Act does not address the concerns of Adivasis in the rest of India along with with the rest of the North East, including the Fifth Schedule, other states and Union Territories such as Ladakh or Andaman and Nicobar, etc.

21. Do Adivasis not live outside the Sixth Schedule and Inner Line Permits areas?
The law excludes a mere 10 per cent of Adivasis living in particular areas of the northeast, but the remaining 90 per cent of the Adivasis who are living from North East to Gujarat and Ladakh to Andaman and Nicobar have not been addressed. These laws jeopardize the existence and rights of Adivasis residing in the States and Union Territories like Madhya Pradesh, Gujarat, Rajasthan, Maharashtra, Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand, Odisha, West Bengal, Andhra Pradesh, Telangana, Karnataka, Tamil Nadu, etc.

22. Should Adivasis oppose CAA and NRC?
The Constitution of India is the supreme document that gives rights and protects the rights of all the citizens of this country. CAA and NRC laws are an attack on the Constitution of India, so it is the fundamental duty of every citizen to oppose these discriminatory laws. Since CAA and NRC laws especially affect Adivasis, it is their prime responsibility to resist and demand to repeal the Act. Therefore, in clear terms, Adivasis should oppose this law in every possible way.

23. How can Adivasis oppose CAA and NRC?
The Adivasis have always been fighting injustice and tyranny and their struggle is seen as an inspiration by the generations. The first battle for India’s Independence was also started in 1855 under the leadership of Sido and Kanhu Murmu brothers with the Santhal Hool (Rebellion). In this series, the Ulugulan Revolution led by Birsa Munda and the sacrifice of Adivasis has a unique place in the history of this country. Thus, even today all the Adivasis need to protest against these unconstitutional laws by coming out of their house. All Adivasis need to unite non-violently and protest against these laws. We need to come out of the houses and huts and show our resistance.

The government has not shown any concerns towards the plights of Adivasis and citizens of the country. Both the government and citizens are firm on their stand and not moving an inch back. The struggle and resistance of Adivasis will continue, it is a fight to protect their dignity and rights.

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