The saffron ruling front at the Centre chest-thumb beat about the abrogation of Article 370 of the Indian Constitution, a special political status that was accorded to Jammu and Kashmir State at the time of its accession to India and the construction of Ram temple at Ayodhya as the landmark achievements of their announcements in their General Election Manifesto 2019. The pending agenda, is the formulation of ‘uniform civil code’ and its implementation. The saffron rulers may say that they implement what they had promised to the people at the time of elections and after seeking the mandate of the people to rule.
India, needless to say a democratic country wherein the prospective rulers are elected based on the majority mandate they secure from the electorate. But in the Lok Sabha elections 2019, no alliance secured the majority of the people’s votes (more than 50 per cent). In that count, the party / alliance which won the higher number of Lok Sabha constituencies will have to come to power despite their seeking less than 50 per cent of votes, polled country wide.
If the votes secured by all the political parties opposed to the ruling front are reckoned, the tally may exceed the total votes secured by the ruling side. However the party / alliance that won the majority of the seats will come to power. This is the lacuna in the India’s democracy, of course being followed, since the first held general elections in 1952. The mandate to rule the country does not reflect the real democratic representation of the electorate.
With this limitation, whoever comes to rule has to abide by the letter and spirit in the governing code of the country viz. Indian Constitution. Mere securing the majority seats in the Lok Sabha is not the yardstick to implement whatever was promised in the election manifesto by the rulers. Mere mentioning of the agenda in the manifesto and stating them in a sporadic way while echoing out election propaganda will not serve the purpose that the agenda has got the mandate of the people. Only a few among the electorates would know, understand and analyse the intricacies involved in the background of historical perspective, connected to every agenda. The constitutional morality in governing the country is applicable to all the parties, that come to rule.
Mere seeking the required majority of seats (Lok Sabha) is not morally sufficient but formally to rule the country. It has to be coupled with the abiding outlook and commitment to the Constitutional principles. Ruling with mere majority of seats in Lok Sabha otherwise, cannot be construed as a democratic governance but treading the path towards disguised democracy viz. dictatorship.
The BJP led government has legislated the Citizenship (Amendment) Act 2019 (CAA) with the audacity of its brute majority in the Lok Sabha and with the influenced majority in the Rajya Sabha. The government is unmindful of the fact that the provisions inserted into the Act through the Amendment, negating the secular core, that is explicitly mentioned in the preamble and through the various provisions of the Indian Constitution.
The Act deals with granting the citizenship to the illegal migrants into India from the three neighbouring countries viz. Pakistan, Bangladesh and Afghanistan with a stigma of discrimination by denial to one religious people viz. Muslims.
So far in the history of implementation of the Constitution, no Act has been legislated violating the provisions of Articles 14 (Equality before law), 21 and 25.
In the original Act that was legislated in 1955 religion is not a relevant criteria for acquiring citizenship.
In the amended Act, the classification of countries from where the illegal migrants enter are eligible to get citizenship is suspect with deliberate motive on the part of saffron rulers. The eligible countries clubbed are Pakistan, Bangladesh and Afghanistan, thereby excluding other neighbouring countries.
After introducing the Bill at the Lok Sabha and during the course of debate, the Union Home Minister stated, “If the Congress had not divided this country on the basis of religion, there would be no need to bring in this Bill”.
The statement of the minister proves that he is lack of knowledge of history of Partition as India and Pakistan or else he is misunderstanding the history deliberately. When the cause of action of the Bill is Partition where comes the inclusion of Afghanistan which is not at all a party to the partition? Besides it was never a part of British India and does not share an actual land border with India.
It was not from Congress but from the Hindu Mahasabha and the Muslim League, the idea a religious basis for two nations came.
The idea of religious identity being the basis for partition has less to do with the Congress and more to do with the ardent advocates of a communal notion of nation building – V.D. Savarkar of the Hindu Maha Sabha and Mohammed Ali Jinnah of the Muslim League.
To further their idea of Partition, Jinnah and the Hindu Mahasabha did not support the Quit India Movement. In 1942, the Congress rejected the recommendations of the Stafford Cripps Mission that endorsed the idea of partition. Till as late as 1946, the Congress remained opposed to the idea of nations being carved on the basis of religions identities.
After the Partition, Jinnah declared Islam as the State religion of Pakistan and invited all the Muslims from India to come over to Pakistan. But with great patriotic faith and trust in the declaration of India, as secular State, by the visionary founder statesmen, the Indian Muslims did not heed to the the appeal of Jinnah and continued to remain with Indian identity. Muslim League started by Jinnah was abolished in India. Indian Union Muslim League (IUML) was started in 1948 with the founder president Mohammed Ismail the then president of Madras Muslim League.
Betraying of the promise given by India to various states immediately after independence in 1947 through the Instrument of Accession is the functional style and ideological path of saffron rulers of the country. They accomplished it in Jammu and Kashmir through the abrogation of the Article 370.
Now the legislation of the citizenship (Amendment) Act 2019 grants Citizenship to the persecuted illegal migrants into India by denying it to the persecuted Muslims. Through CAA, the saffron rulers have betrayed the patriotic Indian Muslims who reposed great trust on the secular fabric of India.
Another point stressed in the Statement of Objects and Reasons of the Bill is that these three countries constitutionally provide for a ‘State religion’; thus the Bill, is to protect ‘religious minorities’ who are persecuted in these theocratic states. The question arises whether the Myanmar is not one such where the official religion is Vajrayana Buddhism. Genocide was conducted against Muslim Rohingyas many of whom have been forced to take refuge in India. The amended Act does not cover the Muslim Rohingyas for Indian citizenship.
“With India for their basis of operation, for their father land and for their Holy land….. bound together by ties of a common blood and common culture (Hindus) can dictate their terms to the whole world” mere words scratched by V.D. Savarkar on the walls of a prison and published in 1923 as a book that defined ‘Hindutva’, are roughly 100 year old”.
– Reproduced from the article, ‘Wholly subordinated to the
majoritarian nation’ by Varghese K. George, the veteran journalist’
The Act says, the persecuted minorities from the THREE countries who had entered as illegal migrants into India is eligible for citizenship. In fact, Christians in Bhutan can only pray privately inside their home. Why then Bhutan was not included in the list? Similarly Sri Lanka, where Buddhism is the State Religion, Genocide was conducted by the State on Tamil Hindus who came to India as refugees. Are they not the prospective beneficiary refugees under the amended Act?
The classification of the countries is manifestly arbitrary with the sole idea of barring the Muslim migrants from the three countries. Even in the Islamic country, Pakistan, Ahmadiyar are treated as belonging to a separate religion. Are the migrants from that sect who were persecuted by the State are not eligible? So is the case of Shias in Pakistan, a different sect of the same Muslim religion, who face serve persecution in Pakistan. Only illegal migrants who belong to Hindus, Sikhs, Buddhists, Jains, Parsis and Christians are eligible means, what about the atheists who are also persecuted in the listed countries and the neighbourers. The typical example is Taslima Nasreen from Bangladesh. Can she get the citizenship in India, in case, she applies for it as per the amended Act? Is the belief of any religion is a must for the migrant to get the citizenship? Arbitrariness to the core is the essence of the Amendment with a specific vengeance against Muslims.
The Implication of CAA in North Easter States and the cause of explosion of riots
The exercise of National Registration for Citizens (NRC) was started in Assam as the follow up of Assam Accord 1985 to distinguish the illegal immigrants into the State from Bangladesh during the war held in 1971 and afterwards. The insurge of immigrants affected the scope of advancement of the indigenous people of Assam. The cut of date was set at 25 March 1971, that means the people who were resident before that date can only be registered as citizens. The main purpose of the NRC as per the direction from the Centre is to avoid the illegal Muslim immigrants from Bangladesh. But the NRC result shows that 19 lakhs have been rendered Stateless which included sizeable Hindus also which the Hindutva saffron rulers did not expect.
Now as per the amended Act, the cutoff date has been relaxed upto 31 December 2014 and only non Muslim immigrants alone are eligible for citizenship. The Centre states that the NRC exercise is to be reconducted in Assam and in all the States in the country to entertain only the migrants of non Muslim communities for Indian citizenship. Again this relaxation and inclusion both in period of stay and cutoff date as per the Amendment is expected to affect the scope of survival and advancement of indigenous people of the North Eastern States of Assam, Meghalaya, Mizoram and Tripura apart from the respective tribal areas that are covered in the VI Schedule of the Constitution.
The States of Arunachal Pradesh, Mizoram and Nagaland are protected already under ILP (Inter Line Permit) system. Now Manipur is likely to be brought under the ILP system. In all these states-ILP system operative States, the CAA will not be applicable. ILP-protected States means, the citizens of other States require the ILP to visit the protected areas as per the Bengal Eastern Frontier Regulation 1873. This means that the illegal migrants from the six minority communities who will become Indian citizens as per the Amendment will not be able to take up jobs, open business or settle down in these areas and will require a permit to enter the ILP system operative States.
The non tribal areas (district councils) of Assam, Meghalaya, Mizoram and Tripura not covered in the VI Schedule of the Constitution and areas devoid of ILP system operative States are subjected to the provisions of CAB. To that much extent the coverage of additional citizenship to the subjected area will affect the scope of the respective indigenous population. Hence the outburst of riots and stiff opposition to CAB from the affected North Eastern States.
Since many of these states are located, bordering the frontiers of India and China, like Jammu & Kashmir, bordering the line between India and Pakistan, some special privileges and promises were granted to the then ruler monarchs of those territories through the Instrument of Accession. All have been violated through the legislation of CAA.
If the background of the identification of six persecuted minority migrants for their coverage in the Bill is analysed, the two religious sects viz. Parsis and Christians were not included originally. If the Bill is presented as such excluding Parsis and Christians along with Muslims, it will invite the wrath and opposition from the middle west and western countries. On knowing this forecast, the Parsis and the Christians were included diplomatically excluding Muslim alone.
Even now the CAB has received negative comments and opposition from USCIRF (United States Commission on International Religious Freedom), a US federal government commission and that has commented the CAB as ‘neither accurate nor warranted! The French Ambassador to India has stated, “I don’t think another government should interfere in India’s domestic affairs. “But we recall our attachment to the freedom of religion”. In respect of Jammu and Kashmir issue, while wishing the situation to become normal as soon as possible, the Ambassador has stated “the rights of civilian population and their humanitarian concerns need to be respected”.
The saffron rulers implement whatever they wished ideologically with the brute majority available for them in Lok Sabha. The explicit and implied comments from foreign countries would make the rulers to think over on their focused deeds, otherwise would cause wider negative ramifications in the long run.