The reason why Assam or Tripura is up against the controversial Citizenship Amendment Act, passed by the Union of India is very different from the reasons why the rest of India, including most Indian Universities, are protesting. Assam or Tripura does not want this Act at all – no matter its Hindus or Muslims. The rest of Mainland India is protesting because the act does not cover Muslims and there is a sea of difference between these two reasons. Below are some of the reasons why every true Indian should stand with Assam and the rest of the North-East against this act in totality and not because it does not include Muslims.
No, we are not going to argue the usual stuff that it’s not secular or it’s unconstitutional. Most people probably won’t care anyway! Also, let’s get this straight first, – this article is not for wannabe patriots. This is not for those who claim to be Indians first but does not even know the names of the north-eastern states of India. It is not for those who never heard about the illegal immigration problem in this region from neighboring Bangladesh. This is not meant for those who show off pride in being Indian but believe that it is ok for peace-loving North-Eastern people to be killed, tortured, hurt and humiliated for the cause of protecting illegal foreigners. That too, just because those foreigners may claim to believe in the same God as you do!
It gives opposition parties the golden chance to include Muslims into the act in the future, in the name of secularism. This means just open the door for more and more foreigners!
Let’s face it, – the popularity of the BJP is shrinking across the country. They are not going to rule India for the next decade for sure at today’s trend. Most of the opposition parties have always appeased the minorities for vote bank politics and here they get a golden chance now to make the Citizenship Amendment Act one of its trump cards. Next term, all they need to do is promise before elections that it will amend the bill to also include “Muslims” into the act to secure a huge vote bank. If they do it, there would be none to oppose this, again except for Assam and North Eastern states, who anyway average Indians won’t care about, right? BJP would not be able to act against it and the world will support them in the name of Human rights, benevolence, etc! But who would suffer the most – Indians, of course? Assam, Tripura, etc will see the rise and rise of illegal influx that will further make the Assamese, for example, a minority identity, a minority language in their own state!
National Security at stake?
Yes, you read it right. Ever watched the movie ‘Jolly LLB 2’, where a dangerous Jihadi from Kashmir was caught hiding in disguise of a Hindu Brahmin priest? As of today, unlike the Indo-Bangladesh border, the Indo-Pak border is sealed. This means that terrorists or anti-national elements have to really struggle and fight through the eyes of the brave Indian Army when entering India. With the Citizenship Amendment Act, a terrorist can walk to the authorities of India with no papers claiming to be a poor persecuted Hindu or Christian, who was persecuted in his country! Terrorists, Ant-national elements, smugglers, child trafficking…all the nightmares of security agencies can just walk-in, probably with a little bit of acting, a child-in arm, etc. He or She anyway does not need to have any papers, – all one has to do is claim with tears how he/she had to run for his life and how he/she had been living here since a time before December 31, 2014. This date can also change in the coming years with minor amendments made from time to time! The Citizenship Amendment Act is dangerous enough to provide shelter to sleeper cells, who can go disappear into any other location in India, get new ID papers (ever heard of the word called “Corruption”) and settle down to create more and more havoc to our peace-loving country. So those who are calling the protesters to Citizenship Amendment Act as Anti-Nationals, please wake up yourself and stop India becoming a haven for anti-national elements.
Why don’t we work to get our house in order first? What about reservation, poverty, healthcare, and education or these things do not matter!
After close to seven decades of enjoying a democratic environment, India’s trouble with the lack of national integration, languages, caste systems, poverty, illiteracy, malnutrition, and poor health conditions have only got worse. Poverty in the country has seen no improvement with more than 40% of the population living below the global poverty line and more than 70% living on an earning of less than 20 rupees per day! The top 10 states in terms of poverty have three of the North-Eastern states who are going to be most affected by this Act. For those who do not know, the GDP of Assam used to be higher than the Indian national average during Independence, but due to the continuous influx of immigrants from East-Pakistan and Bangladesh, Assam took the toll and now its GDP is a fraction of the national average! On the contrary, in India, the rise of the rich to richer has been phenomenal though, due to the monopoly of the capitalist class of India only whom the democratic government of India seems to support. But this is not just because of politics. Because of us, ignorant, who have killed the fundamental rights of our democracy ourselves and thereby allowing our masters to rule us at will. We continue to discriminate between us as we continue to ignore each other’s problem and even here, we are trying to solve someone else’s problem fighting amongst ourselves. Persecution of people is one thing, they are escaping is one thing but giving them citizenship and increase the burden of tax payer’s money to give them education to health care is another!
To make matters worse, we have the reservation system and constitutional facilities based on ancient caste and creed system. So even an illegal foreigner-turned Citizen’s child, who is “low caste” (Whatever it means to an educated Indian) may simply get through an IIT much easier than an average “general caste”! The load of hospitals, schools, etc are just going to increase over the years. This means a slower rate of growth and opportunities for the poor, at the cost of illegal foreigners! Well, we do need to educate the children of the workers who make tall statues and lays the rails for the bullet trains, don’t we?
Leads the wrong example that laws and Bills, above and beyond the constitution, are ok.
Truly, the Citizenship Amendment Act is against the Indian Constitution and everyone knows it. Just so, that everyone supporting the CAB or CAA is conveniently ignoring the fact. Now that it is established that laws, bills, and discussions can take place over and above the Indian Constitution, it opens a Pandora’s box. For example, in Indian’s troubled North-East, major insurgent groups in most affected Assam, the banned outfit ULFA has been demanding lateral talks with the Union Government of India on the topic of Sovereign Assam (Independent Assam), the Manipuri insurgents have been demanding an independent kingdom, calling their history of accession into Indian Union as “illegal” and the NSCN has been demanding for an Independent “Nagalim” for seven decades now. on. So now, what if demands are made by the common people about having lateral talks with the topic of Independence included? The reason for our constitution does not allow this discussion made by the government would not fly anymore to the people of Nagaland, Assam, Tripura or Manipur, who would be most affected by the CAB or CAA.
Insurgency may be back to its worse days in North East India.
As an Assamese, grew up in the eighties and nineties, we have seen the dark days of insurgency torn Assam and the rest of North East India. We have seen the bomb blasts, the blackouts, the kidnapping by insurgent groups, secret killings and atrocities of the Indian Army personnel in the name of insurgency control. But these had almost become history and the situation was becoming normal in the last fifteen years or so. People were seen celebrating Independence and Republic Days with The Tri-colour flying with pride. If the CAA does not get repealed, the youth of the state are going to be frustrated, angry (they already are) and we may end up seeing History repeats itself. Just like the long Assam Agitation by Students of 1979-1985 led to the uprise of the ULFA, there is a high chance that many youths would lose trust in the Indian rule once again, as the notion that Delhi treats the North-Eastern States as its Stepchild, is very common. Questions are already raised by the youth of North-East asking if resources of the region such as oil, tea, uranium, etc are owned by India, are the people of this region not owned, and that why have people of this region protesting been killed otherwise!
It should be noted that at this stage that NSCN (IM), who is known as the most strong of all insurgent outfits in the North-East, is already threatening to break the peace-pact and wage war once against the Indian State. The UNLFW, the collation of all major insurgent groups of North-East, is now headed by Paresh Baruah of ULFA(I). He had become actually appealing the protesters of Assam to maintain peaceful protests and not resort to violence because he probably wants youth to get frustrated further and in the process, get inclined to the insurgency.
We do not want even a single youth to go to the jungles and take up arms anymore. We want the youth to be contributing to nation-building with confidence, but the CAA is something like ‘Kill your own child’ (Assam, Tripura) to save the neighbor’s Child (Bangladesh). Need not mention that typically only a step-mother would kill her helpless child indeed!
Affects neighbor relations, Act-East Policy and more
As a country, we are blaming Bangladesh for religious persecution, which is a serious offense. Bangladesh will not accept this and of course, they are claiming that minorities in Bangladesh are safer than those in India. The tussle will lead to more mud politics, at the International level, and will affect the trade and relationship between the two. India should not forget the support of the Bangladesh Government in arresting and handing over major militant leaders, which went a long way to bring peace in India’s troubled North-East. Likewise, there are plans to build roads and connectivity to ports of Bangladesh so that Industries in North-East, such as tea and Jute can get to the seas for international exports faster, without depending on the lobby of Kolkata. A jeopardized relationship with Bangladesh will now mean that those plans get slow or stalled and giving the business-house of Gujarat and Rajasthan to continue getting the trade benefits of the transportation industry by sending to and fro goods to North-Eastern states of India.
On similar lines, what if other countries such as China starts to offer shelter to Indians claiming persecution? Let us not forget that the Naga Insurgency was initially fuelled by training provided by Beijing. If tomorrow China offers to provide shelter to minority ethnic identities of the North-East, India would not be able to morally reject it for India too has taken a similar step, in front of the world, when it brought about the CAA. Let us not forget that China anyway claims the Arunachal Pradesh, which hosts some of the smallest yet most vibrant ethnic communities of the country. Let us also not forget that during republic day this year, Mizo students in Aizwal were found protesting with play cards that read ” Hello China, Bye Bye India” as a protest to the Citizenship Amendment Act and the entire celebration of the Republic Day events had to be called off!
It Violates the Assam Accord of 1985, which means no treaty, accord or settlement can be trusted in India.
The Assam Accord, that had been signed between the government of India and the protesters of Assam, led by the All Assam Students Union (AASU) on the eve of Independence Day, 1985 had the cut-off date for foreigners to be given Indian citizenship as March 25, 1971. This cut-off date was also the basis of the National Register of Citizens (NRC) that was finalized earlier this year under the supervision of the Supreme Court. The NRC left out about 19 lakh people who could not prove their citizenship claim, meaning most of them were illegal foreigners from neighboring Bangladesh. Unfortunately, now the Citizenship Amendment Act enables the Hindu illegal immigrants from Bangladesh (former East Pakistan) to seek Indian citizenship thereby nullifying what was agreed in the Assam Accord signed! This only means that no promises are permanent in Indian democracy and is a dangerous aspect to the nation. If we can not trust the Nation’s promises internally as a citizen, what trust do we impart to the world!
So, is there any hope now! Yes, definitely.
If we have to go back to history, the Prevention of Terrorism Act (POTA), a much controversial act brought in to act in 2002 was repealed in 2004 by the same BJP. In fact, just after a year, the NDA had forced this act into action, L K Advani had to state in the parliament that that POTA was being misused and a review committee was to be set up, which eventually led to its withdrawal in 2004. So the Citizenship Amendment Act too can be repealed by the house if there is intent to listen to the plea of the people of Assam and the rest of North-East India, who is fighting for all the justified reasons. For this, entire India has to unite and stand up.
By standing up against the Act, the people of Assam are fighting for a piece of India and not against India, as many have started shouting and abusing us, with ridiculous comments and without any depth of understanding. On the other side, bold peaceful agitators protesting democratically In Assam continue to get shot, killed and arrested in the state, still cut off with internet and imposed with the curfew in may districts.
As the Supreme Court of India starts hearing the appeal made by various organizations, students and civil society, we would appeal every Indian to not look at this Act just through the prism of a narrow-minded religious difference of Hindu-Muslim division. Every Indian need to see it through the eyes of his or her fellow countrymen from Assam, which means to see the danger, the threat and to oppose it in totality instead of bringing any religious or political angle. Nehru almost gave away Assam to the Chinese in 1962, let us not have Modi surrender Assam to Bangladeshis in 2019.