What is the fuss about the CAA? What is CAA? I will try to answer all your questions in this blog. Note I won’t take any sides in the blog because for me both the sides present equally good arguments to the law.
So the CAA is the Citizenship Amendment Act which came into force from the Citizen Amendment Bill on 11 December 2019. So like any other country India has certain rules for the citizenship of the country. After attaining Independence India has seen a large number of immigrants entering the country illegally seeking asylum. The CAA was a part of the BJP s manifesto. So basically the act states that all Hindu, Sikh, Buddhist, Jain, Parsi or Christian refugees from Afghanistan, Bangladesh or Pakistan, who entered into India on or before the 31st day of December, 2014 without any valid travel documents such as passport, will be granted citizenship by naturalization on applying for the same, subject to certain easy to fulfill conditions. Naturalization is the admittance of a foreigner to a country like people who live 10 years in the US become the citizens of the US. So the period of naturalization in India was 11 years and more for the migrants which this act relaxes to 5 and more only for the above mentioned religious communities. The acts also states that
“Nothing in this section shall apply to tribal area of Assam, Meghalaya,
Mizoram or Tripura”as included in the Sixth Schedule to the Constitution and the area covered under “The Inner Line” notified under the Bengal Eastern Frontier Regulation 1873.”
What is Inner Line Permit?
The Inner Line Permit (ILP) is a system introduced for border areas by the Bengal Eastern Frontier Regulation, 1873. People outside such declared areas can visit the places only if they have a permit. They cannot settle in such areas even with ILP. The system is now being used to protect certain areas from the purview of CAB. Places notified for protecting tribes under Sixth Schedule Areas of the Constitution too have been placed outside CAB’s purview.
The controversy starts here. First of all why does the act only include 6 religions and not the Muslims? This is the main reason for conflict in the country. The Act evidently excludes Muslim “immigrants” from getting the citizenship of India. Now the explanation given by the government is that the act covers only the persecuted communities from the different countries. Since Muslims are in majority in the 3 nations they have not been included in the Act. Although the union government seems to have forgotten the Ahmadiyya community in the “persecuted communities”. Ahmadiyyas are a sect of Muslims which are widely persecuted by people all over the world especially in countries like Pakistan. The act also fails to include the Sri Lankan Hindus who migrated to India during the bitter civil war from 1983 to 2009. Sri Lankan Hindus largely still depend upon the refugee camps set up by the Indian Government. Although the decision to not to include the Sri Lankan Hindus might arise from their military activities. It should be noted that the LTTE was involved in the assassination of the late prime minister Rajiv Gandhi. The Indian Government since has been suspicious about the refugees among whom might be military activists. However such religious exclusions have certainly made its way into controversies. The opposition is seen questioning the law on the basis of its secularity. Protests have taken place all over the country against the act. A large number of people still remain unaware about the law. The law does not affect the Indian Muslims in any way. The principle cause of worry to me is about the people who are not included under the Act. Where will they go? Are we rendering thousands of people who have been living in the country since generations stateless? The Union Government needs to answer these questions. The Act though is a step towards cracking down the illegal immigration into the country.
You might not fail to notice that although Assam has been excluded from the Act it has been the epicentre of the anti CAA protests. The reason would be:-
Though this legislation covers refugees from three countries, the indigenous people of Assam fear it will primarily benefit illegal Bengali Hindu migrants from Bangladesh who have settled in large numbers across the state. The Assamese fear that if citizenship is granted to Bangla-speaking Hindu immigrants from Bangladesh, they will outnumber Assamese-speaking people in the state. They cite the example of Tripura, where Bengali-speaking Hindu migrants from Bangladesh now dominate political power, pushing the original tribal population to the margins. Unlike in the rest of India, where people are questioning the exclusion of Muslims, the Assamese don’t want immigrants of any religion, whether Hindu or Muslim.
The questions still arise remain…. Is the law a move to appease the Sangh(RSS)? Is the law constitutional ? Is it discriminatory? The facts lie in front of you. Its your view that matters. What will happen next? I don’t know. Its just amazing to watch the dance of democracy!