CAB-CAA today has a different meaning than the conventional definition. CAB means Citizenship Amendment Bill and CAA is Citizenship Amendment Act. Here is a disclaimer. I am neither a constitutional expert nor am I a Supreme Court lawyer. I am an ordinary citizen of India like crores of others. I have tried to write in a manner without writing about complexities (there are too many) because I am not an expert. I am also not an intellectual. People like Doctors, Engineers, Architects are not intellectuals. You have to be born intellectual and be educated at JNU, Oxford, Harvard in political science, finance, or at least history! Sometimes Geography is also okay!
CAB was passed in Rajya Sabha on the 11th December after Lok Sabha passed it on the previous day and became CAA the next day; it became law as the President signed the necessary documents. Citizenship, migration is the phenomena of the 20th Century. Before that period, travel was tough, and a comparatively small number of adventurous people migrated and settled in different countries. The journey from one part of the country to another part was tough. Hence the laws and rules of migration and citizenship have been comparatively recent phenomena.
India was never a single country as we see it today. There were Rajas of various small and big states. I am not sure how people travelled in those days from place A to place B. Hyderabad was a big state under the Nizam. The procedure and documentation involved in going into Hyderabad from outside are not known to me. Was the visa required before independence? After the independence “India” was split into two nations. Bharat and Pakistan (West and East) were created based on religious majority. India had a Hindu majority, and Pakistan had a Muslim majority. Creation of Bangla Desh in 1971 created a significant flux in Eastern India. Many people from erstwhile East Pakistan moved to India and moved to West Bengal/Assam. These people were both Hindus and Muslims.
The partition in 1947 created the first sizeable Hindu nation of the world. The first principle of citizenship is if you are born in a country where your parents and grandparents were born, you automatically become a citizen of that country. The US is a nation formed by migrants. So even today, there is a law in the US that if a child is born on US soil, the child automatically gets US citizenship. They do not bother about the citizenship status of the mother. She can be alien too!
India applies a similar law of citizenship, and those who lived in India at the time of partition automatically became citizens of India. Those like me who were born just after partition also became a citizen of India by birth. This law applies to all the people of irrespective of their religion. India used the same law before and after the CAB bill came into existence. My point is that there is a significant discussion going on, that this bill is against the Muslims, is not correct. The bill has nothing to do with Muslims who are already citizens of India, like me. Such propaganda and discussion are incorrect. I have one question for the intellectuals. Do they know that Muslims in India are far better off than Dalits, Tribals in India? So why not talk about these people?
So why are different groups protesting the CAB bill? Political parties feel that it is an excellent vehicle to create confusion in the minds of the people and get some mileage to push the government politically. People forget that politics is a trapeze act in a circus. Accidents can happen easily if both sides do not follow the basic rules of the coalition. A classic example is Rahul Gandhi’s comment on Savarkar. Shive Sena has immediately retaliated on what he said. I am sure that it will lead to blood pressure and temperature rise in Maharashtra politics.
I have read many articles, treaties, and seen a couple of videos by experts. I have tried to explain the critical issue of CAA in plain English! Now at least I am clear what stakes are involved in CAA. I hope you also will get a fair idea of the same.
Why there is a strong protest in Assam? Assamese feel that many Hindus who have “migrated” after the 1971 Bangla Desh war in Assam will become citizens of India. The act will reduce their opportunities in their state by making a large number of migrants Indian citizens. The map above shows the states for which CAA is not applicable. The blue states do not come under the purview of CAA, but it applies to Meghalaya, Assam, and Tripura. These states have a common border with Bangla Desh.
It is important to know what is ILP. ILP is an Inner Line Permit. This permit is required by tourists,s including all Indian citizens. At a time, it is given for seven days; later on, it can be extended if required. For those Indians seeking jobs in these states, it is given for one year at a time; it is also extendable like the tourist permit. The permit is used for keeping intact the special social and cultural fabric of these states. Now Meghalaya has also requested ILP. It will be decided in a meeting after Christmas.
Why there is a strong protest in West Bengal? Mamta Banerji is a strong supporter of Muslims. She assuages the Muslim community at the cost of the Hindus. She has a fear that her vast vote bank of Muslims from Bangla Desh will not get citizenship under the CAA. They can be sent back to Bangla Desh.
Don’t miss this horror story of what Jyoti Basu’s West Bengal Government did with low caste migrants who came to India in large numbers before and after Bangala Desh War.
The concerned people have managed to keep it hidden as much as possible.
Why are protests continuing in Jamia Millia and other such institutes in Delhi? The main reason is that they do not understand the meaning of the act. Secondly, these institutions have been anti-government all the time. The moment they get an opportunity, they start protesting.
There are collateral damages when acts like CAA or action like Article 370 is taken. The first discussion on citizenship had begun in 1971, and it took some form in 1985. Somehow the governments after 1985 kept the status quo instead of acting on the same. The collateral damage of CAA will be the relationship with Bangla Desh. But in the first place, we must note than Bangla Desh never made any attempt to stop the illegal migration of Hindus and Muslims to India. Once India starts acting on this bill, India will send back many Muslims who had illegally entered. The reverse migration can be problematic for Bangla Desh. But is that India’s fault? Pakistan did not like Article 370 action. If they had lived peacefully, India might have maintained a status quo. But continuous terrorist attacks forced India to act in Kashmir. A strong nation needs to act even if others don’t like it. Recently the US sent back about 500 Indian people who were trying to enter the US illegally via Mexico. Did India protest? They were Indian citizens trying to perform illegal acts.
Opposition leaders and intellectuals are raising a question. They are asking why the government has chosen only three countries of Pakistan, Afghanistan and Bangla Desh. I feel that it is a matter of policy. Persecuted people are usually in the minority. These countries have Muslims in the majority. The Indian government is trying to help people in the minority. Muslims from these countries have a different route of seeking Indian citizenship. Adnan Sami, Taslima Nasreen, Dalai Lama are the prominent people who have been given Indian citizenship. Ruskin Bond has been living in India for 50 years. If Imran Khan decides on one fine day that he wants Citizenship of India, he can always apply. He will have to follow a standard procedure, and at the end of scrutiny, if he fits the bill, he will get Indian citizenship.
Opposition parties and intellectuals are raising a question of why Sri Lanka (Tamils), China (Uyghur), Myanmar (Rohingyas) and more are not included in the list. India is already giving shelter to Tamils. Rohingyas are coming via Bangla Desh since we don’t have a common border with them. So they have to go back. CAA is a relaxation in rules of giving citizenship and not against taking away citizenship. The government has made CAA to help minorities from these three countries (these countries have a majority Muslim population) who are persecuted. The persecuted majority from these countries can apply if they feel like taking Indian citizenship. The government will consider them under routine migration process.
By no means, this subject is over. Major genuine discontent is for Assamese people. I am sure that the Central Government will sit and talk with Assamese people and their leaders. They will come to an amicable solution with CAA as the guiding principle. Some tweaking may be needed. I am sure both the sides will show flexibility and reach a reasonable conclusion.