TODAY -

Why this relaxation of 12 years to 6 unless armed with a hidden agenda ?

SK Singh *



Much has been talked about, much more discussed and still the tempo goes on where citizens across the country, more so in the NER raise their voices against the Act.

The principal areas of discord centre on issues like, why this consideration of 'non Muslims' only in a country known for its secular constitution or could it be the ruling party's long-standing agenda and BJP-RSS combine's Hindu-Rashtria, or could it still be the importance of Bangladesh-origin Bengali Hindus swarming across parts of Assam, the Barak valley for instance which could turn the face of political spectrum in the region or could there be still other hidden agenda?

Quite a few other factors are propounded as yet, by political analysts. They argue, while the BJP's theory of 'religious persecution', surely a strong humanitarian concept or discourse, not all, rather a minority among them had crossed the borders in search of greener pastures.

This country India is not itself a prosperous unit, many still are deprived of shelter, food, electricity and the likes of basic minimum facilities and absorbing more foreigners at this juncture, in their millions doesn't surely sound logical.

If these foreigners are in need of work, they may of course come under a system, work for a specified period of time and go back to their country. This system prevails across the world. Workers skilled or otherwise migrate to countries like say, UAR, under a system and this process goes on to the benefit of both the countries.

Contrary to this accepted protocol, migrants sneaking into a country and be bestowed citizenship, granting voter right, ration card etc on religious grounds sounds ridiculous.

More troubles are lying in wait; it is emphatically blurted out, mainly in the NER. The region having 98% of its geographical area porously bordering with foreign countries, with just an awfully insignificant 2% connected with the mainland through what is nicknamed 'chicken neck' at the North Bengal corridor, remains vulnerable for enticing more intruders.

Assam in particular is the largest loser if the illegal Bangladesh migrants which swarm the bordering districts are legalized as per the CAA. The indigenous people of Assam apprehend, and quite rightly so, that their culture, their language, their very ethnographic stature would be ruined; for the obvious reason that Assam has been singularly facing much of the brunt of migration or better still, illegal migrants from its very immediate neighbor Bangladesh.

The case of apprehension is clearly from consideration that unlike in mainland India, the brunt of migration would be felt most in Assam, in particular, also in the units of the NER, with concern that the whole system would impact to the extent that the very face of the region would be swallowed by illegal migrants.

Still another area where the new CAA is charged to have suffered could be in the region of omitting Muslims who could be facing religious persecution. The CAB assumes that Muslims of the three countries did not face such atrocities on grounds of religion, as Islam is recognized as a state religion in these three countries.

In the discussions in the Parliament the Central government is conspicuous by its avoidance of any reference to Shias and Ahmadis who understandably suffer from religious persecution. The Bill is also charged to have ignored such religiously persecuted minorities from Nepal and Sri Lanka, from where these minorities had fled to india.

Still another, and of recent origin, the Rohinga Muslims from Myanmar who had fled to India following religious persecution are not covered by this benevolent perception minted by the BJP-RSS combine.

The new CAB inserts a proviso, "Provided that any person belonging to Hindus, 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 3 of the Passport (Entry into India) Act, 1920, or from application of the Provisions of Foreigners Act, 1946, or any rule or order made there under, shall not be treated as illegal migrant for the purpose of this Act."

The Statement of Objects and Reasons (SOR), attached to the CAB states, "Trans-border migration of population has been happening continuously between the territories of India and areas currently lying in Pakistan, Bangladesh and Afghanistan. Millions of citizens of undivided India belonging to various faiths were staying in the said areas of Pakistan and Bangladesh when India was partitioned in 1947.

The constituents of Pakistan, Afghanistan and Bangladesh provide for a specific state religion. As a result many persons belonging to Hindu, Sikh, Buddhist, Jain, Parsi and Christian communities have faced persecution on grounds of religion in these countries.

Some of them have also fears about such persecution in their day-to-day life where right to practice, profess and propagate their religion has been obstructed and restricted. Many such persons have fled to India to seek shelter and continued to stay in India even if their travel documents have expired or they have incomplete or no documents."

Despite all the reasons, clarifications embodied in the revised Act, the question still hangs around if indeed, this CAA in its amended form is required indispensably. Does the professed core sector of 'religious persecution' as highlighted by the Centre really called for?

A galaxy of former civil servants that included former Cabinet Secretary to the GOI, expressed grave reservations about the constitutional validity of the CAA. They wrote to the Central government, "We have our grave reservations about the Constitutional validity of the CAA provisions, which we also consider to be morally indefensible. .....a statute that consciously excludes the Muslim religion from its purview is bound to give rise to apprehensions in what is very large segment of India's population...."


* SK Singh wrote this article for e-pao.net
The writer can be contacted at kunjabiharis(AT)rediffmail(DOT)com
This article was webcasted on January 15, 2020.



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