The Union Government of India led by the saffron party BJP, as expected, went ahead with its policy of bringing about the controversial and much resisted Citizenship amendment bill 2016 (read Citizenship Amendment Bill 2019 from now) yesterday. The bill, that is intended to amend the Citizenship Act, 1955 aims to give citizenship to Hindu, Parsi, Sikh, Jain and Christian migrants from Afghanistan, Pakistan and Bangladesh.
While there is a section of the country that is criticizing the bill since it favors selectively non-Muslims alone, the bill has gotten widespread resistance in Assam and other North-Eastern states. People in Assam and Northeast rightly believes that this bill, once passed will pave the way for illegal migrants being granted with Indian citizenship and this, in turn, will pose a great threat to the indigenous identity of the people of the region, making Bengali the dominant group.
The people of North-Eastern states now vehemently oppose the bill when it has been passed in Lok Sabha already yesterday. But in all honesty, there is nothing surprising with the action of the BJP here. The election manifesto published by the BJP in 2014 had clearly stated about BJP’s intention to provide shelter to Hindu refugees from other countries.
Both Prime Minister Narendra Modi, as well as Amit Shah, had publicly declared about their stand in 2014 and 2015 respectively and today they are only fulfilling their words. In fact, Modi himself had announced about this bill in 2016, during his Nepal visit. Ironically, the stand of the BJP to win the Assam State Assembly elections was different though. Huge advertisements and publicities were done in the state promising to throw out all Bangladeshi illegal immigrants and were one of the major agenda of the successful election run of the BJP in Assam when they won in 2016.
The controversial bill which aims to legalize Foreigners as citizens of the Country based on religion has often been compared with Israel’s Law of Return. Israel’s Law of return allows only Jews to come (back) to the country and become residents based on religion. More dangerously, just by the concept of the bill being discussed, the BJP has already succeeded in changing the terminology of the Hindu foreigners as refugees and not as illegal immigrants.
It is to be noted that India has not signed the ‘1951 UN Refugee Convention’ and as such India is ideally not at all liable to give refuge to any foreign nationals coming in the country due to religions or any discrimination. If at all, there is a need to provide shelter or refuge to people who have fled their own country due to religious or social discrimination, then ideally that should apply for any kind of people irrespective of religion, caste or creed. By that logic, India should even give refuge to the Rohingya Muslims who have fled Myanmar or even to the Tibetans who has fled into India.
Due to this discriminatory approach, the Citizenship Amendment Bill violates the ‘secular policy’ of the ‘Indian Constitution’ and can be challenged in the court of Law. The Supreme Court is now led by capable, extremely efficient and neutral stalwarts such as Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi and should be able to see the right from wrong. Everyone, as such, is now keenly looking forward to the legal battle against this bill as the Supreme Court is turning out to the only hope left against this discriminatory bill.