We are seeing a lot of protests against the recently passed CAA bill in the parliament. The bill was passed in both the Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha with a clear majority which means most of our elected representatives agree with the bill. So why are these protests happening?
While trying to get the root of this problem, it was noticed that the majority of the people haven’t even read the bill or if they have then not in conjunction with the Citizenship Act 1955 or they really have no comprehension of what it means. The very first thing every citizen of the country must do in such controversial times is to go to the primary source and not rely on media, which means, to read the Bill itself.
The Citizenship Amendment Act 2019 (CAA) is an Act further to amend the Citizenship Act, 1955 which itself is 19 pages long. In other words, CAA is just an addition to the already existing Citizenship Act.
According to the Citizenship Act, 1955 and the Citizenship (Amendment) Act, 2003; One can be a Citizen of India by –
To this, the CAA or Citizenship (Amendment) Act, 2019 adds the following to the Section 2-1-b –
“Provided that any person belonging to Hindu, Sikh, Buddhist, Jain, Parsi or Christian community from Afghanistan, Bangladesh or Pakistan, who entered into India on or before the 31st day of December 2014 and who has been exempted by the Central Government by or under clause (c) of sub-section (2) of section 3 of the Passport (Entry into India) Act, 1920 or from the application of the provisions of the Foreigners Act, 1946 or any rule or order made thereunder, shall not be treated as illegal migrant for the purposes of this Act;”.
This basically means that any person belonging to the above-mentioned minorities only from Afghanistan, Bangladesh and Pakistan, who have already entered India on or before 31st December 2014 and were being not allowed to register for citizenship under the Foreigners Act, 1946 shall now be allowed to apply for the same.
This does not mean that they will get citizenship automatically. Firstly, they need to apply for Indian citizenship and secondly, they will still have to prove that they belong to the “Persecuted Minority” from the above mentioned three countries.
The section 6B(4) of this act, clearly states “Nothing in this section shall apply to tribal 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”. This indicates that the protests in Assam and other North-Eastern states could be politically motivated since there is no reason for them to do so.
Why minorities only from Pakistan, Afghanistan and Bangladesh?
Only these three neighboring countries have their constitution based on Islam or in other words, are Islamic states. The rest of the neighboring countries like Nepal is sovereign, secular, inclusive democratic, socialism-oriented federal democratic republican state, Srilanka is the Democratic Socialist Republic, China is a Socialist state, Myanmar is an Independent Sovereign Nation known as the Republic of the Union of Myanmar. Minorities (Hindu, Sikh, Buddhist, Jain, Parsi and Christians) in these countries face no religious persecution and therefore there are no “refugees” from these countries on such basis. There could be illegal migrants but not refugees (the two being very different) and hence this act does not apply to them no matter what religion or community they belong to. They will be regarded as foreigners or illegal migrants whatever may apply.
Because the state religion of these three countries is Islam, the persecution the minorities face in specifically these three countries are on a religious basis. Places of worship being destroyed, abductions, rapes, murders, and forcible conversions are rampant with no aid from their respective governments. Many fled these countries to seek refuge in India because there is no other country that they can turn to.
Why not give the same benefit to Muslim Minorities from Pakistan like Ahmedis and Balochs?
The Ahmadis of Pakistan never wanted to be in India and they still don’t. Ahmadis actively participated and voted in favor of the formation of Pakistan. It will come as a surprise to you that Chaudhry Zafarullah, the very architect of the plan for Pakistan was an Ahmadi. Chaudhry Zafarullah was very well aware that he and the Ahmadi community was not considered as Muslims and that Muslims will be irritated if they found that the scheme was prepared by a Qadiani/Ahmadi. So he requested Viceroy Lord Linlithgow to keep it as a secret. Later Viceroy gave Jinnah a copy of the scheme to make the Muslim League adopt and publicize its contents.
Ahmadi’s always wanted a Pakistan and live there. They don’t want to come to India but want to be equally treated and accepted as a Muslim. They chose Pakistan being fully aware of how they were looked upon by Muslims.
Ahmadis were officially Muslims in Pakistan until in 1974, following some riots organized by clergy that the then Prime Minister of Pakistan, Mr. Zulfikar-Ali-Bhutto brought the Second Amendment to the Constitution of Pakistan declaring Ahmadis as Non-Muslims.
Similarly, Baloch or Baluch/Beluch are tribals speaking Balochi language and occupy the province of Balochistan on the southeastern edge of the Iranian Plateau. They are traditionally Nomads but settled agricultural existence has become common and their chiefs now have fixed residence.
Baloch neither wants to come to India nor Indian Citizenship instead they want to free their land from Pakistan. Though the majority of the Baloch are Sunni Muslims they identify themselves stronger with their ethnic group rather than their religion.
It was in the early 1900s when some Baloch rulers called for Independence. Immediately following the 1947 partition of British India, Mir Ahmed Yar Khan, the Khan of Kalat and the leader of the Baloch ethnic group, claimed independence and refused to join Jinnah’s Pakistan (Priyashree Andley, Special Report 32, Balochistan A Backgrounder). The new government of Pakistan did not adopt the former British policy of tribal Autonomy and chose to use a more direct method of administering the Baloch Territory (Jason Heeg, Insurgency in Balochistan). Since then they had been fighting for their liberation and hence they don’t seek to integrate with India or Indian citizenship.
I hope you found this article helpful and it helps clear up the misunderstandings about CAA. If you have any further points to add or any question, please put them in the comments below and I will get back to you with answers along with sources and data.