Video

History of CAA

In the previous video of the series ‘Understanding CAA’, we understood what CAA is. If you missed that video, click here. Let us now have a look at the historical background of CAA.
Crux of the Matter

India has been a home to refugees for centuries. When Parsis faced religious persecution during 12th – 16th Century, refugees from the community came and settled in Gujarat. India went through a turbulent refugee crisis during partition. Nearly 10 million people were dislodged and they became refugees migrating through the overflowing borders. The migration was a picture in red and black – massacre and violence.

It seems that people of the Indian subcontinent are still paying for the two-nation theory that created India and Pakistan in 1947. Independent India created a citizenship law to tackle swarms of illegal migrants. The 1955 Citizenship Act laid out the mechanisms for acquiring Indian Citizenship which is governed by Articles 5 to 11 of the Indian Constitution.

In 1971, Bangladesh, which was then East Pakistan, was a victim of mass genocide called “Operation Searchlight” carried out by Pakistan in order to wipe out the Bengali Movement in the state. In the 9-month long pogrom, anywhere between 3 lac to 3 million civilians were massacred and more than 10 million refugees rushed to India’s West Bengal, Assam and other nearby states as well as to Myanmar. This triggered the 1971 war between India and Pakistan which led to the bifurcation of Pakistan and creation of Bangladesh.

A decade later, the menace of Bangladeshi refugees started creeping up in the states of North East, especially Assam. In 1979 the All Assam Students’ Union (AASU) started a movement to save the indigenous culture and drive out refugees, who comprised majorly of Bengalis.
It culminated in the signing of the Assam Accord in 1986 by the then Rajiv Gandhi government. Citizenship Laws became stricter with the 1986 amendment to the Citizenship Act. Individuals born in India could only be considered a citizen if either of their parents was an Indian citizen.

Vigilance on the India – Bangladesh border became stricter. In accordance to the Assam Accord, the amended Citizenship Act aimed at driving out illegal immigrants who had entered India after March 25, 1971.

The term that is creating controversy today “illegal migrants” was added to the Act in the 2003 Amendment by Atal Bihari Vajpayee’s government. Its definition was added to the Act and the following major changes were made:

  • If either of the parents of a child born in India after 2003 were illegal migrants, the child was not to be considered an Indian Citizen.
  • Between 1987-2003, Indian citizenship could be granted to a child whose either parent held Indian Citizenship.
  • Whereas, prior to 1987, anyone born in India was considered Indian Citizen.
  • Illegal immigrants could not apply for Indian Citizenship through Registration.

Dr. Manmohan Singh, then in the Opposition, criticized the Bill and said in 2003 that “”India’s stance towards persecuted minorities be most liberal.” Other amendments in 2005 and 2015 to the Bill were linked to the Overseas Citizenship Clause in the Act.

2003 Amendment also mandated Government to conduct a nation-wide National Register of Citizens and issue a national identity card to each citizen. NRC was not much deliberated after 2003 until 2008’s 26/11 Mumbai terror attacks. The Congress-led UPA Government decided to go with Aadhaar identification rather than NRC. Along with Census 2010, National Population Register was carried out. However, the UPA government did not take any steps to conduct NRC.

NRC in Assam is an entirely different issue. It has been mandated by the Supreme Court since 1986 to make sure Assam Accord gets honoured.

BJP-led NDA government’s Citizenship Amendment Act, 2019, seems like a policy that is on the other side of the spectrum when compared with former NDA government’s 2003 amendments. Attributing circumstantial elements to the different stances, this amendment eases the citizenship requirements for immigrants from certain “religiously persecuted” communities. It will not consider “illegal” immigrants who have entered India before 31st December 2014 and who are from Hindu, Jain, Parsi, Sikh, Christian, Budhha religions as “illegal” and will grant them citizenship. Furthermore, naturalization period for these persecuted minorities has been reduced to 5 years instead of 11. The 11 year naturalisation period is still applicable to every other immigrant.

Looking at the timeline of amendments, it seems that changing circumstances as well as generational demographic shifts have coincided with changes in the citizenship requirements as mandated by the government of India.

Curiopedia

Operation Searchlight was a planned military operation carried out by the Pakistan Army to curb the Bengali nationalist movement in the erstwhile East Pakistan in March 1971, which the Pakistani state retrospectively justified on the basis of anti-Bihari violence by Bengalis in early March. Ordered by the central government in West Pakistan, this was seen as the sequel to “Operation Blitz” which had been launched in November 1970. The original plan envisioned taking control of all of East Pakistan’s major cities on 26 March, and then eliminating all Bengali opposition, political or military, within one month. Pakistani President Yahya Khan at a conference in February 1971 said “Kill three million of them and the rest will eat out of our hands.” Prolonged Bengali resistance was not anticipated by the Pakistani military leaders. The main phase of Operation Searchlight ended with the fall of the last major Bengali-held town in mid-May. The operation also precipitated the 1971 Bangladesh genocide, in which 300,000-3,000,000 civilians were killed and roughly 10 million refugees fled to India. Bengali intelligentsia, academics and Hindus were targeted for the harshest treatment, with significant indiscriminate killing taking place. These systematic killings enraged the Bengalis, who declared independence from Pakistan, to establish the new nation of Bangladesh. More Info

Video

CAA – What's The Deal?

Crux of the Matter

Citizenship Amendment Act came into effect from 10th January 2020. To say, it has been a hot topic for more than a month, would be an understatement. It has had a polarising effect on politics as well as the citizenry of India.

Citizenship Amendment Act, a part of the ruling party BJP’s electoral manifesto, was first introduced in the Lok Sabha in 2016. With the dissolution of the 16th Lok Sabha, the bill did not see the light of day. It was re-introduced in the Winter Session of 2019, the year BJP came back to power at the centre with a thumping majority.

Passed by both Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha, the Act aims at giving citizenship to certain migrants belonging to persecuted minority communities from Bangladesh, Pakistan and Afghanistan. Citizenship will be granted to migrants belonging to Hindu, Jain, Sikh, Buddhist, Parsi, and Christian religions. As per the 2019 amendment, now these migrants will not be treated as illegal migrants. Those who have entered India before 31 Dec 2014 will be given Indian citizenship. Refugees from these communities will, in general have their naturalisation period reduced to 5 years instead of the standard 11 years. The 11 year naturalisation period will still be applicable to other migrants.

CAA had also been announced during the Congress regime. It aimed at providing citizenship to religiously persecuted minorities. No religion was specified back then. CAA 2019 has sparked flames because of the apprehension of conducting NRC after CAA. The plan to implement a nationwide NRC has been emphasized multiple times by HM Amit Shah in the recent past.

CAA has been opposed by the states in the North East, specifically regions of Assam and other surrounding states not covered under the Inner Line Permit as they feel a threat to their linguistic, cultural and social identity. Despite ILP, Assam fears the already growing presence of Bangla speaking people, who hold various important positions in the social fabric. It is to be noted, that the amendment is not applicable to tribal areas of the North East and areas falling under ILP.

The primary opposition to CAA in the rest of India is based on the speculative fear that it will be a safety net to ensure the citizenship of non-Muslims, after which NRC will be implemented to discriminate against Indian Muslims. This fear has been stoked by certain parties in the opposition who claim that the government is taking away rights from Muslim citizens in the country. They see CAA as a threat to the fundamentals of the Indian constitution.

The opposition argues that the amendment violates the right to equality guaranteed under Article 14 of the Constitution because it provides differential treatment to illegal migrants on the basis of their religion. Article 14 permits laws to differentiate between groups of people only if the rationale for doing so serves a reasonable purpose. The Statement of Objects and Reasons of the Bill does not explicitly explain the rationale behind differentiating between illegal migrants on the basis of the religion.

The government has tried to address these fears by repeatedly stating that CAA is not applicable to Indian citizens. Prime Minister Modi has also come out and said, “The Bill has no provision to snatch citizenship from anyone but to grant citizenship only to the refugees. There is no need for Indian Muslims to live in fear.”

Curiopedia

Citizenship in India – The conferment of a person, as a citizen of India, is governed by Articles 5 to 11 (Part II) of the Constitution of India. The legislation related to this matter is the Citizenship Act 1955, which has been amended by the Citizenship (Amendment) Acts of 1986, 1992, 2003, 2005, and 2015. Article 9 of Indian Constitution says that a person who voluntarily acquires citizenship of any other country is no longer an Indian citizen. Also, according to The Passports Act, a person has to surrender his/her Indian passport and voter card and other Indian ID cards must not be used after another country’s citizenship is obtained. It is a punishable offence if the person fails to surrender the passport. Indian nationality law largely follows the jus sanguinis (citizenship by right of blood) as opposed to the jus soli (citizenship by right of birth within the territory). The 2019 Citizenship Amendment Bill amends the Citizenship Act of 1955 to make religiously persecuted minorities, namely Hindus, Sikhs, Buddhists, Jains, Parsis and Christians from Afghanistan, Bangladesh and Pakistan, who entered India on or before 31 December 2014, eligible for Indian citizenship. It also seeks to relax the requirement of residence in India for citizenship by naturalisation from 11 years to 5 years for these migrants. More Info

Lok Sabha clears the controversial Citizenship (Amendment) Bill

Amidst a very heated, controversial and extensive 12-hour debate, Citizenship Amendment Bill, 2019 was passed in the Lok Sabha on December 10 at 12:11 am with 311 MP votes in favour and 80 against the bill.

Crux of the Matter
  • Home Minister Amit Shah introduced the bill at 11 am in the Lok Sabha.
  • In his opening remarks, he said, “The people of the six minority communities who migrated to India following religious persecution in Pakistan, Bangladesh and Afghanistan will be given Indian citizenship as per this Bill. The Bill does not violate Article 14 of the Indian Constitution.”
  • The parties namely Indian National Congress, Trinamool Congress, RSP, TRS, SP, CPM, NCP, BSP, DMK, AIMIM, IUML opposed the Bill citing various articles of Constitution especially Article 14.
  • Senior MPs Manish Tewari, Shashi Tharoor, Supriya Sule, Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury expressed their views strongly against the bill calling it discriminatory.
  • Opposing and tearing the copy of the bill AIMIM MP Asaduddin Owaisi said, “The government is hatching a conspiracy by the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill and the NRC to make Muslims stateless.”
  • Questioning the opposition, Shah said, “If this bill violates Article 14 (equality before law), then why do minorities get special privileges in this country.”
  • The Home Minister assured that the Bill protects the northeastern states under the Sixth Schedule and the areas covered under ‘The Inner Line’ of permit and Article 371 will not be touched.
  • The bill excludes Arunachal Pradesh, Nagaland and Mizoram, almost the whole of Meghalaya, and parts of Assam and Tripura.
  • While the bill was being discussed in the Lok Sabha there were protests happening in Assam, Agartala and many parts of the northeast.
  • In the concluding remarks after the passage of the bill, Amit Shah said, “NRC is coming soon and with the passing of this Bill, lakhs of people will get rid of torturous life.”
Curiopedia

East Bengali Refugees are people who left East Bengal following the Partition of Bengal, which was part of the Independence of India and Pakistan in 1947. An overwhelming majority of these refugees and immigrants were Bengali Hindus. During the Bangladesh liberation war in 1971 with West Pakistan, an estimated 10 million people of East Pakistan (present-day Bangladesh) fled the country and took refuge in India particularly in the Indian states of West Bengal and Indian North East region. The exact number of refugees has never been officially collected and estimates vary considerably. In the immediate aftermath of partition, commonly attributed figures suggest around 3 million East Bengalis migrating to India and 864,000 migrants from India to East Pakistan. As per the Refugee Relief and Rehabilitation Department of the Government of West Bengal, the census figures show the number of refugees from East Pakistan in 1971 was nearly 6 million and in 1981, the number was assessed at 8 million. More Info

Home Minister Gives Statement on NRC in Rajya Sabha

Speaking in the Rajya Sabha, Union Home Minister Amit Shah clarified that government will conduct NRC across India irrespective of any religion. He also said that the Citizenship Amendment Bill is different from NRC.

Crux of the Matter
  • People excluded from the NRC in Assam have the right to go to the tribunal.
  • Cost of lawyers to be borne by the state government.
  • West Bengal CM, Mamta Banerjee has strongly opposed to the decision of NRC across India.
  • Amit Shah supported the Citizenship Amendment Bill by highlighting the need of giving citizenship to all illegal migrants from Pakistan, Bangladesh and Afghanistan belonging to Hindu, Christian, Sikh, Parsi, Jain and Buddhist religions by treating them as victims of religious persecution.
  • He also spoke on restoring normalcy in Kashmir.
Curiopedia

National Register of Citizens (NRC) is a register maintained by the Government of India containing names & certain relevant information for identification of Indian citizens. The register was first prepared after the 1951 Census of India and since then it has not been updated until recently in Assam following Supreme court order. The purpose of NRC update in the state of Assam is to identify illegal migrants residing in that state. Assam has become the first state in India where the updating of the NRC is being taken up to include the names of those persons whose names appeared in the NRC of 1951. More Info

Amit Shah Commands CRPF to Pursue Naxals and their Supporters

Home Minister Amit Shah on Friday visited the CRPF central command on Friday and told the big shots that “action needs to be taken against Urban Naxals and their facilitators.”.

Crux of the Matter
  • Mr. Shah was given a point by point introduction by Director General R.R Bhatnagar on the different aspects of CRPF.
  • He has asked the force to carry out an effective campaign against Naxalism.
  • “The Home Minister directed the CRPF to carry out an effective and decisive campaign against Left Wing Extremism in the next six months. Action needs to be taken against the Urban Naxals and their facilitators,” the CRPF said.
Curiopedia

Naxals are members of any political organisation that claims the legacy of the Communist Party of India (Marxist-Leninist), founded in Calcutta in 1969. The Communist Party of India (Maoist) is the largest existing political group in that lineage today in India. The term Naxal derives from the name of the village Naxalbari in West Bengal, where the Naxalite peasant revolt took place in 1967. Naxalites are considered far-left radical communists, supportive of Mao Zedong’s political ideology. Their origin can be traced to the split in 1967 of the Communist Party of India (Marxist) following the Naxalbari peasant uprising, leading to the formation of the Communist Party of India (Marxist–Leninist) two years later. Initially, the movement had its epicentre in West Bengal. In later years, it spread to less developed areas of rural southern and eastern India, such as Chhattisgarh, Odisha, Andhra Pradesh and Telangana. The Naxalite–Maoist insurgency is an ongoing conflict between Maoist groups known as Naxalites or Naxals, and the Indian government. More than 13,000 people have been killed since the start of the insurgency in 1980, most of them in the period since 1996. To enforce their control over the population, the Maoists have convened kangaroo courts to mete out summary justice, normally death. beatings, or exile. Read More