14 February 2024

The Explainer - The Citizenship Amendment Act

 The Citizenship Amendment Act will be implemented before the Lok Sabha elections take place in May this year.

 Ever since it was brought out in 2019, the CAA has become a become a rallying point for the BJP's detractors across the political and non-political spectrum. 

The liberal cabal, also called the ‘secular brigade’, has accused the Modi Government of seeking to disenfranchise the Indian Muslims through the CAA. 

 Is this accusation true?

Highlights of the CAA

I have compiled the most important provisions of the Citizenship Amendment Act, 2019, which is an act further to amend the Citizenship Act, 1955. 

  • Persons belonging to the religious minorities of Hinduism (Hindu), Jainism (Jain), Sikhism (Sikh), Buddhism (Buddhist), Zoroastrianism (Parsi), and Christianity (Christian) in the Islamic nations of Afghanistan, Pakistan, and Bangladesh and who entered India on or before 31 December 2014 will not be treated as illegal migrants.

  • Such persons shall be deemed to be citizens of India from the date of their entry into India.
  • Under the Citizenship Act, 1955, the most important requirement for citizenship by naturalization is that the applicant must have resided in India during the last 12 months, and for 11 years of the previous 14 years. The CAA relaxes this 11-year requirement to six years for persons belonging to the above-mentioned religions and the three countries.

As you see, there is nothing anti-Muslim here. Also, it has nothing to do with Indian citizens.

A Muslim from any country, including from Afghanistan, Pakistan, and Bangladesh, can apply for Indian citizenship. However, she will have to come through the normal process, and not through the expedited process that will be available to non-Muslims from these countries.

The three countries of Afghanistan, Bangladesh, and Pakistan have been explicitly mentioned because they are avowedly Muslim, with Islam as the state religion. It is an open secret that the persons from the religious minorities (Hindu, Christian, Jain, Buddhist, and Parsi) are greatly discriminated against, persecuted in every way possible, and denied basic freedoms.

In these three Islamic nations, forced conversions to Islam are an ugly fact of life while blasphemy laws are routinely used to harass and intimidate religious minorities in these countries.

At the time the CAA was passed, the BJP has been greatly lacking in ‘communication’. The party has several effective public speakers, yet they failed miserably in communicating to the Indian public, especially Muslims, that the CAA has nothing to do with Indian citizens.

This time around, the BJP has mounted an aggressive campaign to drive home the precise point that Indian Muslims have nothing to fear from the CAA. 

No comments: