New citizenship act: What lies forward for Assam

By Shantanu Nandan Sharma


It’s 11 am on Thursday (December 12) and Guwahati is underneath curfew, imposed by the state authorities to curb the protest in opposition to the Citizenship Modification Invoice (CAB). A small group of protesters defy the curfew and try to assemble at Guwahati’s Latasil playground — a venue for sporting occasions in addition to Bihu celebrations. Police act rapidly and push the gang again.

Quickly, one other group emerges from a bylane to hitch the primary group. The protesters refuse to budge regardless of police’s enchantment. The law-enforcers lathicharge. However a 3rd group, fourth and a fifth group come from the bylanes to hitch the principle group exterior the bottom. Police hearth tear gasoline shells to disperse the gang streaming in from the bylanes.


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Inside half an hour, protesters’ numbers swell to round eight,000, forcing the safety forces to step again. The gang now manages to enter the Latasil floor. A helicopter and a drone are pressed into service to watch the defiant crowd. Latasil quickly reverberates with cries of “Aami CAB namano (we gained’t settle for CAB)”. “Namano, namano, namano”, shout the protesters.

The chants, nonetheless, didn’t cease President Ramnath Kovind from approving the CAB that evening, making it the CAA (Citizenship Modification Act). This has paved the way in which for Hindus, Sikhs, Buddhists, Jains, Parsis and Christians dealing with non secular persecution in Pakistan, Bangladesh and Afghanistan to get citizenship if that they had entered India earlier than December 31, 2014. The regulation may also grant citizenship to lakhs of Bangladeshi Hindus already settled in Assam however face the specter of being tagged unlawful immigrants as soon as Nationwide Register of Citizenship (NRC) course of is accomplished. It’s this level that has riled the folks of Assam and the Northeast.


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Protesters declare the federal government was in a rush to settle the problem of Hindu Bangladeshis being excluded from the NRC in order that they don’t want to look earlier than a foreigners’ tribunal to contest exclusion from NRC. They level out that the federal government had lowered the minimal years of keep in India from six to 5 exactly for this. In impact, it could now assist a Hindu immigrant from Bangladesh, who was excluded within the NRC, simply get citizenship.

Protesters say the regulation has two most important functions: stability the rising Muslim affect in Assam and West Bengal and engineer a refined polarisation forward of the 2021 West Bengal meeting elections. This might give the Bharatiya Janata Social gathering (BJP) an enormous political benefit. Additional, CAA, together with the NRC, would make situations tough for Muslims particularly, they declare.

In January, Assam Finance Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma informed reporters the brand new regulation would “rescue” 17 meeting seats from falling into the fingers of Muslim immigrants.

However Assam doesn’t appear to be prepared to hearken to any argument for rolling out the pink carpet to Bangladeshi immigrants — be it Hindus or Muslims. Why ought to we take the cultural and financial burden of constructing illegals authorized, they ask. The state had seen violent protests in 1979-1985 throughout a preferred motion in opposition to unlawful immigrants. As quickly the Lok Sabha handed the invoice on Monday, Assam residents reacted sharply, and in some instances violently, fearing that the authorized cowl to at least one extra lot of Bangladeshis would threaten their ethnicity, languages and tradition. The stage is now set for a long-drawn agitation even because the All Assam College students’ Union (AASU), the organisation that spearheaded the sooner motion, has challenged the regulation within the Supreme Courtroom.

State’s residents are dissatisfied as in 2014, prime ministerial candidate Narendra Modi had promised Bangladeshi infiltrators could be pressured to depart Assam with their “bag and baggage”. Why, then, has the federal government prolonged a authorized provision to bestow them citizenship now, they surprise.

“Assam has already taken the load of Bangladeshis who had entered Assam between 1951 and 1971,” says chief adviser of AASU Samujjal Bhattacharya. “Assam and Northeast aren’t a dumping floor.”

CAB has reopened previous wounds due to one other subject, too. The Assam Accord, which had ended the sooner agitation, had mentioned unlawful immigrants who had entered the nation earlier than 1971 may get citizenship.

However the citizenship regulation shifts that to 2014. If the closing date will be shifted by 43 years, the protesters ask, what’s the assure it gained’t be moved farther? “How lengthy can we take a further load? CAB is an insult to the indigenous folks of Assam. We’ll proceed a nonviolent, discipled motion for a very long time,” Bhattacharya provides.

The agitation intensified on Wednesday, when the Rajya Sabha mentioned and handed the invoice. Protesters just about seized Guwahati for about six hours earlier than the Military was deployed and curfew imposed. Protesters went on the rampage Thursday, burning autos and public property and taking up native police personnel. Police needed to open hearth to quell the violence. Protesters even pelted stones on the convoy of the state’s new Director Basic of Police, Bhaskarjyoti Mahanta.

The violence has claimed no less than three lives up to now. Nonetheless, folks main the protests declare anti-social parts masquerading as agitators are triggering violence.

Amid the chaos, an much more harmful aspect is rising its head. The pinnacle of militant outfit United Liberation Entrance of Asom-Unbiased, Paresh Baruah, has known as up some reporters from his hideout someplace in Southeast Asia to warn the police in opposition to attacking protesting college students.

To allay the fears of the folks, PM Modi and House Minister Amit Shah have mentioned the Centre was dedicated to safeguarding the political, linguistic, cultural and land rights of the Assamese folks. Modi even tweeted about this in Assamese.

cab-protest-3Protesters at Latasil floor in Guwahati on Thursday.

On Wednesday, the federal government imposed an web shutdown in Assam, which has been prolonged to December 16, to quell rumormongering. Assam Chief Minister Sarbananda Sonowal has additionally appealed to the folks to not resort to violence and pay heed to rumours.

Various younger Assamese ET Journal spoke to mentioned that bandhs and protests would solely derail the hard-earned peace within the state and hurt it economically. However they refused to touch upon file.

Monjit Sharma, a scholar chief in Gauhati College, nonetheless, says the Centre’s choice to exclude most components of the Northeast — the areas underneath the sixth Schedule of the Structure and people being coated by the Inside Line Allow — from the purview of the brand new regulation has boomeranged.

The folks of the Brahmaputra Valley, particularly, are extra indignant and decided due to this “divisive technique”, he provides.

However how lengthy can the protest go on? Sharma says this time, the scholars will protest with a distinction. “Not like in 1980s, we’ve determined to not boycott our lessons,” he says. “We’ll research, and on the similar time proceed our protests with a Gandhian philosophy till this new regulation is withdrawn.”

“Regulation is an insult to indigenous folks of Assam”

By Shantanu Nandan Sharma

Within the 1990s, Sarbananda Sonowal, now the chief minister of Assam, was the president of the All Assam College students’ Union (AASU) and its basic secretary Samujjal Bhattacharya was his second in command.

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Right now, Bhattacharya, who’s now the chief adviser to AASU, has taken a lead function within the anti-CAB protests. Throughout an interview in Guwahati, Bhattacharya tells Shantanu Nandan Sharma that Sonowal has betrayed the folks. Edited excerpts:

The Citizenship Modification Invoice (CAB) is now a regulation. Will you continue to proceed your agitation?

We’ll proceed a non-violent, disciplined motion for a protracted interval. Additionally, we’re in contact with senior Supreme Courtroom advocates on how one can proceed legally. The indigenous folks of Assam have determined to struggle again. It’s a matter of existence. College students will research and likewise take part on this motion.

However you will have defied the curfew.

Sure, folks of Assam have defied the curfew. The BJP authorities, each on the Centre and the state, has betrayed the folks of Assam.

They wanted the votes of unlawful Bangladeshis and so enacted this regulation. Earlier, the Congress too enacted IMDT Act (Unlawful Migrants Dedication by Tribunal) to guard Bangladeshis. The AGP (Asom Gana Parishad), which was shaped after the Assam Accord was signed in 1985, has additionally betrayed the folks of the state by supporting the brand new regulation.

CAB was introduced in to guard unlawful Bangladeshis. It violates the Assam Accord. The regulation is unconstitutional.

Why are you calling it unconstitutional?

It’s discriminatory on the premise of faith and it violates the Assam Accord, which is a nationwide dedication. In 1985, the then prime minister (Rajiv Gandhi) introduced the Accord from the ramparts of the Purple Fort. The Accord was offered in Parliament. (BJP leaders) Atal Bihari Vajpayeeji and LK Advaniji, amongst others, had supported it. Within the Citizenship Act, a brand new clause (6a) was inserted to present a authorized tooth to the overseas nationals’ subject underneath the Accord.

In 2019, the identical Parliament has undone the provisions of the Accord and imposed a brand new deadline — December 31, 2014 (to find out who’re foreigners). It isn’t acceptable to us.

What’s your estimate on the variety of Bangladeshi Hindus who will likely be granted citizenship underneath the brand new regulation?

The quantity isn’t necessary. The basic subject is, we’ve already taken the load of Bangladeshis who had entered Assam between 1951 and 1971. Your complete nation ought to have appreciated it. Assam and the Northeast isn’t a dumping floor. Now we’re being requested to take a further load. This regulation is an insult to the indigenous folks of Assam and Northeast.

You had labored intently with Assam CM Sarbananda Sonowal. Now you might be main an agitation in opposition to the Sonowal authorities.

All of us really feel he has betrayed us.

Fearing the worst
By

Prerna Katiyar & CR Sukumar


Moradabad & Hyderabad: Each Friday, Mohammed Yameen shuts his brassware store in Moradabad’s Peerzada space — and retains the day for his buddies, household and God, not essentially in that order. On December 13, the 50-year-old didn’t even go to the mosque for namaz. It was the Friday after the Citizenship (Modification) Invoice was handed by Parliament — the Lok Sabha handed it on December 9 and the Rajya Sabha on December 11.

cab-protest-4A protest in opposition to Citizenship (Modification) Invoice in Allahabad.

“After the invoice was handed, I made a decision to do nothing else on Friday however discover the papers that present this home was purchased by my grandfather, who was born in Moradabad in undivided India,” says Yameen. His different fear is to safe papers that present his grandfather, Abdul Farid, was certainly his grandfather.

Union House Minister Amit Shah has mentioned Indian Muslims don’t have anything to worry from the Citizenship (Modification) Act or CAA, however Muslims in Uttar Pradesh — the place they’re 18% of the inhabitants, based on the 2011 Census — are frightened.

The CAA fast-tracks citizenship for 5 non-Muslim communities in Pakistan, Afghanistan and Bangladesh, however the concern is in what it alerts — making citizenship a matter of religion — and the type of impact it is going to have on the bottom for individuals who discover themselves excluded from the Nationwide Register of Residents (NRC). The regulation will throw a lifeline for non-Muslims, whereas the Muslims out of NRC could be incarcerated or relegated to non-citizens.

Mohammed Shameen, a civil contractor in Rampur, says there’s a rising feeling that Muslims are getting a step-motherly remedy from the powers that be. “Our ancestors have given their lives for this nation. When the Structure guarantees equality and no discrimination primarily based on faith, why do we’ve this regulation? Why make us really feel that we aren’t the identical as others? And why now?” he asks.

It’s no completely different in Hyderabad.“Earlier, I assumed NRC was just for border states that had issues of unlawful migrants.

I’m now frightened, listening to that it is going to be carried out in different components of the nation, together with Hyderabad,” says Mohammed Arif, a 23-year-old salesman at a cell equipment retailer in Ameerpet. “I used to be born and introduced up right here. My household has been right here for generations.

We now have Aadhaar, voter ID card and ration card. However going by the expertise of Muslims in Assam, we’re frightened about what’s going to occur to us. What if they are saying these papers aren’t sufficient?” he asks.

Hyderabad has seen this earlier than when “foreigners” had been picked up after the Police Motion on September 17, 1948.

Mir Ali, a 79-year-old from Golconda, says, “I heard from my father that a number of thousand folks, together with these dwelling right here for generations, had been recognized as aliens and pushed into detention camps.

They included Muslim households who migrated to Hyderabad generations in the past from Saudi Arabia, Afghanistan and Iran and served within the Nizam’s military.” He provides, “In fact, many of the Muslims who had been suspected as unlawful migrants and confined in detention camps had been later discovered to be born in British India and freed.”

Historian Taylor C Sherman, affiliate professor within the Division of Worldwide Historical past on the London College of Economics and Political Science, has, in her analysis paper, traced the “destiny of Arabs, Afghans and different Muslim migrants after the forcible integration of the princely state of Hyderabad into the Indian Union in 1948”.

Explaining how about 21,000 folks recognized as foreigners had been stored in detention camps pending deportation, she mentioned solely a few lots of could possibly be lastly deported. She mentioned that individuals of Hyderabad didn’t robotically turn into Indian residents and needed to wait until the Citizenship Act of 1955, which formally made individuals belonging to the princely states residents of India.

Political events are break up down the center on the brand new citizenship regulation.

The Lok Sabha MP from Moradabad, ST Hasan of the Samajwadi Social gathering, says the regulation goes in opposition to the spirit of the Structure. He feels the invoice will communalise the nation like by no means earlier than. “Now the Centre will herald a nationwide NRC and make issues worse for the group. Muslim are principally poor and illiterate right here. They don’t preserve recordsdata or data.

How will they offer proof of their lineage? That is an try to declare Muslims as ghuspethiya (unlawful immigrants),” he says.

The BJP contends this. Mohsin Raza — the lone Muslim minister within the Yogi Adityanath authorities — says the regulation isn’t anti-Muslim.

“It’s samman ka regulation (a regulation that bestows honour to migrants). Anybody, together with Muslims, who seeks Indian citizenship will likely be rightfully given a listening to. Take a look at Hindus in Pakistan.

Are they safe there? Had our neighbours taken care of their Hindu minorities, there would have been no want for this regulation within the first place,” he says.

Rohingya in Hyderabad

Within the Previous Metropolis of Hyderabad, there are about 6,000 refugees, principally Rohingya Muslims, dwelling in 15 settlements. They fall exterior the citizenship regulation.

Mazher Hussain, government director of the civil society physique Confederation of Voluntary Associations, which works as a accomplice of the United Nations Excessive Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), says there was a spurt in refugees from Myanmar to Hyderabad since 2012 owing to rising conflicts there.

Rakesh Reddy Anugula, spokesperson of the BJP in Telangana, says there’s there’s a right away must implement NRC in delicate areas like Hyderabad, Mumbai and sure components of Uttar Pradesh which have unlawful migrants.

Hyderabad-based political analyst Manchala Srinivasa Rao argues that CAA and NRC don’t discriminate in opposition to Indian Muslims, whose citizenship wouldn’t be questioned. “In fact, there are considerations after the shoddy implementation of NRC in Assam. These have to be addressed earlier than it’s carried out throughout the nation to allay the apprehensions of Muslims,” he says.

Amjed Ullah Khan, spokesperson of Majlis Bachao Tehreek, a Muslim political outfit in Telangana, doesn’t agree.

He says the BJP authorities has opened the gates to ethnic conflicts. Terming CAA as unconstitutional, he mentioned political and social outfits working for the safety of the rights of Muslims will problem the regulation within the apex court docket. “We hope the Supreme Courtroom will strike down the anti-constitutional laws that discriminates in opposition to Muslims,” he says.

Many of the Muslims that ET Journal spoke to in Telangana aired considerations concerning the seemingly harassment by the authorities throughout a nationwide NRC. Whereas those that are employed and have properties are comparatively assured of manufacturing paperwork to show their citizenship, those that are self-employed and with out properties expressed fears that they didn’t possess sufficient paperwork and title deeds.

“Muslim-Mukt Bharat?”

“Are all Muslims terrorists?” asks Iqbal Hussain, a councillor in Moradabad, Uttar Pradesh. “There could also be some dangerous parts in each group. However by bringing a regulation in its present kind, the BJP has proven that they need a Muslim-mukt Bharat. Folks have a number of anger and resentment and we’re considering how one can cope with this.”

Abdullah Khan, first-time MP from Rampur’s Suar meeting seat and son of SP MP from Rampur Azam Khan, factors to the futility of protesting in opposition to the invoice and of airing one’s fears. “Who will hear us? Not one of the amendments proposed by the Opposition acquired a correct listening to. The Centre is popping Kashmir into jail and Assam into Kashmir.”

cab-protest6College students maintain placards throughout a protest in opposition to Citizenship Modification Invoice in Hyderabad.

Many others like BSP Lok Sabha MP from Amroha, Danish Ali, says the regulation is not only in opposition to the fundamental tenets of the Structure but in addition pushes the two-nation idea supported by VD Savarkar and Muhammed Ali Jinnah.

“What was the necessity to usher in a laws for the primary time on the premise of faith? Is that this not divide and rule? If the Central authorities stands for equality, they need to embrace Muslims within the regulation in addition to folks from Sri Lanka, Nepal, Bhutan and Myanmar. Nevertheless it gained’t.

As a result of its motive is to polarise voters into Hindus and Muslims and divert consideration from a failing economic system,” says Ali.

Yunus Mohammad, a 42-year-old engineer working with a personal agency in Hyderabad, says his fears have solely exacerbated. “Ever for the reason that BJP authorities got here to energy for the second time with absolute majority and began going forward with its agenda of concentrating on Muslims by legislative amendments to triple talaq, Article 370 and now CAA, there was panic amongst my household and kin about rising non secular polarisation and sense of alienation.”

He says “we by no means anticipated a day will are available our lives once we would really feel unsure about our future and fear about our security in India and even consider migrating to safer international locations on PR (everlasting residency) visas”.

In Moradabad, its MP Hasan Moradabad recites a couplet by the poet Muzaffar Razmi. “Ye jabr bhi dekha hai taarikh ki nazron ne/ Lamhon ne khata ki thi sadiyon ne sazaa payi (Historical past is witness to such compulsions/ Errors had been made in a couple of minutes however its value needed to be paid for hundreds of years).”

“Citizenship Regulation Fails Three Exams of Classification”

By CR Sukumar

The Citizenship (Modification) Act goes in opposition to constitutional imaginative and prescient and is unreasonable and arbitrary, Faizan Mustafa, vice-chancellor of NALSAR College of Regulation, tells CR Sukumar. Edited excerpts:

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The Opposition argues that the Citizenship (Modification) Act or CAA is anti-constitutional.

The CAA goes in opposition to the constitutional imaginative and prescient. This classification isn’t an inexpensive classification as a result of, one, it doesn’t cowl all of the neighbouring international locations. Two, it doesn’t cowl all persecuted minorities. The CAA is neither primarily based on an inexpensive classification nor does it have a rational object or simply object to realize. Three, it’s arbitrary.

However BJP says Article 14 permits classification?

They’re proper. It permits classification however the classification should be cheap. And a classification will need to have a rationale and simply object to realize. And it should be non-arbitrary.

These three assessments should be glad. In my view, CAA doesn’t fulfill these assessments.

What occurs if CAA is challenged within the Supreme Courtroom?

It should positively be challenged. The court docket will usually refer it to a constitutional bench and it’ll not be promptly determined. Except the court docket takes a daring stand and stays it, this regulation will likely be carried out, in my view.

How do you take a look at the apprehensions round CAA, seen together with the Nationwide Register of Residents (NRC)?

If the federal government declares it’s not going forward with the NRC, CAA is welcome. In NRC, when folks get excluded, how will you embrace them? If folks begin getting punished for not having paperwork or discrepancies in paperwork, we’re heading in direction of a catastrophe as a result of poor and illiterate folks don’t have paperwork. I believe the nation, with these pointless steps, isn’t entering into the fitting route, notably when our economic system goes by way of a nasty patch.

What do you must say concerning the apprehensions of Muslims about CAA?

Their apprehensions are real. The CAA in itself is probably not dangerous however, learn with NRC, it’s a harmful proposition, not just for Muslims but in addition for Hindus. Poor Hindus will likely be equally affected, prefer it occurred in Assam.

They’re going to be equally excluded and focused and so they all will cease working. They are going to all be trying to find paperwork; they are going to be bribing folks to get paperwork.

And nationwide productiveness, GDP, will endure. It’s an injustice to ask folks to show their citizenship on the premise of paperwork and get excluded if there’s a small discrepancy.

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