It has been a matter of serious anguish, that a misinformation campaign has been launched to discredit the recently enacted Citizenship Amendment Act, 2019 (CAA) and further leading to a totally unwanted and undesirable communal divide among the national polity. In this context, the need for creating awareness among the nation’s society of the imminent need and justification for such amendment and further to be followed up by effective steps for implementation of a National Register of Citizens (NRC), which is highly imperative for ensuring national security.
In the above context, considering the historical perspective leading to partition of our country on communal lines hailing for the formation of a secular India and two segments of theocratic states on either side of our country, and stark reality faced by our nation due to massive migration of minority communities from West Pakistan and East Pakistan (i.e. now Bangladesh). There has been demand for providing protection for those refugees who were driven out from their homeland due to religious persecution. Cutting across political angles, originally all the national political parties supported for granting citizenship for those innocent lacks of people who fell under different minority religions of Pakistan and Bangladesh, which has been deemed as a national and humanitarian mission of our country in the light of its inclusive national cultural ethos of our country.
Even though successive governments were offering to come forward with appropriate amendment to the Citizenship Act, 1955 for enabling the grant of citizenship to those migrants to our country who were forced to flee from their land for the fear of lives due to religious persecution. It is tragic to see such offers remains unfulfilled. Meanwhile, tensions started from different boarders across our country due to the concerns of those states as well as the immigrants whose faith may undecided due to non-grant of citizenship even after decades of their coming over to our country due to religious persecution faced by their families in Pakistan and Bangladesh.
It has been in the above backdrop the present central government has come forward with a bold statutory amendment of Citizenship Act (CAA) thereby bringing necessary changes under Section 2, 6(a), 7D, and Section 18. The Act introduced and passed in both Houses of our Parliament and got Presidential assent on December 12, 2019 and thereby forming part of the law of the land. This in spite, unfortunately due to narrow political considerations, major national opposition parties and their different state associate political parties, a misinformation campaign is happening across the State of Kerala mainly targeting the minority community, to stir up misplaced apprehension in the mind of credulous vulnerable minds of the people to depict that the same would result in the denigration of citizenship right of the members of the minority community, which is absolutely false and amounted to a distortion of law.
In the above context our country being one of the time tested and deep routed secular nation has been the motherland of crores of people of different religion, caste community creed etc. who have been living in the same earth as the members of the same family with enviable record of tolerant and mutual respect. Which is the credit of the ethos of our culture. We have been considering all religion with same degree of respect and keeping a principled distance from each religion with a convection that, a different modes of worship would lead to the realization of same law. But now a deep routed conspiracy has seen hatched by few anti-nationals abetted by our enemy countries to create communal violence and social unrest by stirring up unnecessary controversy about the recent Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA), after spreading falsely. In this context it has become necessary to expose the diabolically venomous intention of such anti nationals after educating the common man of our country about the need and justification of such an amendment.
In the above context, Articles 5 – 11 of our constitution deals with the conferment, acquisition and grant and regulation of citizenship. Articles 5 & 6 provides for acquisition of citizenship by birth and post partition migration. Article 11 provides for making enactments for the purpose of acquisition and termination of citizenship. Accordingly, the Citizenship Act, 1955 has been enacted for acquisition and termination of citizenship. The Act has gone to amendment in different periods to take care of requirement to post over passage of time.
It has been in the above context that, our country has witnessed massive inflow of refugees during and subsequent to 1971 war leading to liberation of Bangladesh. During said period and the years preceding such war, when East Pakistan witnessed an unparalleled persecution of minorities there. Lacks of innocent people who were either murdered, looted or driven out only for being members of minority communities, necessarily our country being secular and inclusive in its culture, the persecuted mass fled to India and settled in the Bordering states and border of Bangladesh. This in spite of birth of Bangladesh which remain secular country for few years, the minority communities of Bangladesh were unsafe and continue to migrate to India to save their lives and to honour their womenfolk. Thus similar migration was also occurring from the western part of our country, when minority communities in Pakistan having put to such religious persecution. It has been in the above back drop that, in terms of offers and promises and demands made by different native political parties for extending citizenship to those migrants from Pakistan, Afghanistan and Bangladesh, the theocratic states, who have been facing the religious persecution, that the Central Government has come forward with an amendment to the Citizenship Act (CAA). Though it has been ex facie evident that, the Act does not affect the existing citizenship rights of any of Indians.
Moreover, that does not anyway affect or restrict the rights of a non-Indian to apply and acquire Indian citizenship under the existing provisions. On the other hand the Act is made only as a tailor made provision for protecting the interest of minorities who migrated to India prior to 31.12.2014 for acquiring citizenship rights by migrants belonging to minority communities of the three respective neighboring states of Pakistan, Afghanistan and Bangladesh. According to the amendment Act (CAA), those who are being treated as illegal migrants from those three countries. Even though, such illegal migrants are offered immunity from adverse penal consequences under the Passport Act and the Foreigner Act, even though they were offered long term visa to stay in our country, conferment of citizenship in their favour remain a remote possibility on account of then existing conditions under Section 4, 5 and 6 of the Citizenship Act, 1955, which provide for a minimum period of 7 years.
Under the amendment residency period of 11 years has been reduced to 5 years in the case of minority communities of three countries named above. Such a benefit extended to the members of minority countries of the 3 countries can be termed only as a reasonable classification. Since, those migrants forced to come out to India on religious persecution at the three theocratic states referred above can be seen to be forming a class by themselves. It would be unreasonable and illogical to content that, the members of majority communities of those countries also are to be extended similar benefits when admittedly they do not face any religious persecution.
In the above context, it is further to be borne in mind that citizenship cannot be extended to all those foreigners aspirants since any prudent nation has to keep in mind its social, economic and security interest before acceding to the requests for citizenship. As a sovereign nation, we are not expected to sacrifice our national interest including the need of the concerning the resources like land, food etc. and the need to maintain social harmony and internal security. In this context it is further matter of record, the tree neighboring country referred above have an unenviable history of social/financial security and religious tolerance. Persons of those countries who have been harbouring intolerance and ill will to the minority communities of those countries under their theocratic constitutions cannot be expectedly tolerant and compassionate to align to our faith once they come over to our country. Especially in case of Pakistan, the country notorious to instigate hate India mind in their society for its political motives.
Considering all the relevant aspects as above, it has been a great achievement of our government to enact the amendment (CAA) to fulfill our national mission for protecting the human values.
Keywords: CAA, NRC, Indian Citizen, Constitution of India, Article 5