What is CAA - Citizenship (Amendment) Act in India?
|One of the protests against CAA - the Citizenship (Amendment) Act in India. Photo: Reddiff.|
What is CAA - the Citizenship (Amendment) Act in India?
|The Citizenship Amendment Act seeks to provide Indian citizenship to illegal refugees from 6 communities coming from Pakistan, Bangladesh, and Afghanistan. According to the Jagranjosh, these 6 communities include; Hindu, Buddhist, Sikh, Christian, Jain, and Parsi. |
Worth to mention that Illegal migrants can be imprisoned or deported under the Foreigners Act, 1946 and the Passport (Entry into India) Act, 1920. These two Acts empower the central government to check the entry, exit and residence of foreigners within India.
Who makes the cut?
The legislation applies to those who were “forced or compelled to seek shelter in India due to persecution on the ground of religion”. It aims to protect such people from proceedings of illegal migration. The cut-off date for citizenship is December 31, 2014 which means the applicant should have entered India on or before that date. Indian citizenship, under present law, is given either to those born in India or if they have resided in the country for a minimum of 11 years. The Bill also proposes to incorporate a sub-section (d) to Section 7, providing for cancellation of Overseas Citizen of India (OCI) registration where the OCI card-holder has violated any provision of the Citizenship Act or any other law in force.
What is Centre's logic behind the bill?
Centre says these minority groups have come escaping persecution in Muslim-majority nations. However, the logic is not consistent – the bill does not protect all religious minorities, nor does it apply to all neighbours. The Ahmedia Muslim sect and even Shias face discrimination in Pakistan. Rohingya Muslims and Hindus face persecution in neighbouring Burma, and Hindu and Christian Tamils in neighbouring Sri Lanka. The government responds that Muslims can seek refuge in Islamic nations, but has not answered the other questions.
Who are illegal immigrants from India perspective?
As per the Citizenship Act, 1955, an illegal immigrant is one who enters India with fake or forged documents and/or does not have a valid passport. A person who stays beyond the visa permit is also referred to as an illegal immigrant.
When did the issue of Citizenship (Amendment) Act come up?
Prior to the 2014 Lok Sabha elections, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), which was seeking to topple the Congress-led UPA government, promised to grant citizenship to Hindus persecuted in the neighbouring countries. In the party's election manifesto, the BJP promised to give shelter to the Hindus and welcome the refugees.
|Photo: Business Standard|
Which parties are against the Citizenship (Amendment) Act and why?
BJP's coalition partner Assam Gana Parishad has threatened to cut ties with the party if the Bill is passed. NGOs like Krishak Mukti Sangram Samiti and students' organisation All Assam Students’ Union also have come forward in opposing the Bill. All Opposition parties, including the Congress and All India United Democratic Front, have opposed the idea of granting citizenship to an individual on the basis of religion. It is also argued that the Bill if made into an Act, will nullify the updated National Registration of Citizenship (NRC).
It is indicated by the Business standard that parties and activists opposing the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill, 2019 are of the view that it works against the cultural and linguistic identity of the indigenous people. Mizoram and other northeastern states, which have a diverse indigenous community, have urged the government not to table the new citizenship bill, saying it will open a "floodgate” of illegal immigrants in the state.
In January 2019, days after Union home minister Amit Shah announced that the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill would be brought in parliament again, protests were held in Manipur, Nagaland and Meghalaya. The Nagaland and North East Forum of Indigenous People (NEFIP) claimed that it would seek the United Nations’ intervention if the Centre implements the Bill.
Northeast protest against Citizenship (Amendment) Bill
The Bill has divided India into protests and jubilations. While Hindu refugee communities across India are celebrating the government's move, a majority of Northeast remains on edge. Guwahati was the epicentre of anti-CAB protests. People in the north-eastern states fear that the Bill would change the demography of the states if it is passed as people of different cultures and languages will get citizenship of the country. Currently, the northeast is witnessing protests against Bangladeshi immigrants.
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