Save The Constitution, Citizenship, Democracy:
Resist CAA, NPR, NRC
People all over India are protesting the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA), passed by the BJP Government in Parliament in December 2019.
People have recognised that the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) is communal and unconstitutional, and that the CAA + all India National Register of Citizens (NRC) threatens to turn Muslim citizens into “infiltrators” and non-Muslim citizens into “refugees.”
In many places, the internet is banned, road and rail traffic restricted, Section 144 imposed in BJP-ruled states, students and other protestors brutally thrashed, shot at, blinded, maimed, even killed.
The people’s movement against CAA and all-India NRC aims to protect India’s Constitution, democracy, and unity.
Now, under pressure from protests all over India and the world, the Modi-Shah Government in a desperate bid to save the CAA, is lying about the CAA and NRC, and also lying about the protests.
The Government is lying to you.
Most of the media is lying to you.
You have a right to know the truth.
Read on to bust the Government’s lies, and know the facts.
We The People of India Elect The Government –
The Government Cannot Select Who Are The People of India
The Constitution guarantees that the people of India vote and elect their Government and enjoy power over it. It does not allow the Government to select the people who are allowed to vote and elect Governments. The Constitution’s first lines speaks of ‘We The People of India’ – not “We the people who have documents proving we are of India” or “We the Governments of India who decide which people belong to India”!
The Constitution of India drafted in 1950 by Dr Ambedkar does not distinguish between Indian citizens on the basis of religion. The Constitution does not define Indian citizens as “Hindu” or “Muslim”. It makes no distinction between those entering India from West Pakistan or East Pakistan (today’s Bangladesh) on the basis of religion. The Constitution – and the Citizenship Act 1955 – did not describe anyone as an “illegal immigrant.”
The RSS and BJP never supported the Constitution of India and its secular spirit; they wanted the Manusmriti to be India’s Constitution instead. During the freedom struggle, and since Independence, they only sought to divide the people and the country on the basis of religion.
Elected Governments have no right to meddle with the basic spirit of the Constitution. But the BJP-NDA Governments have tried to alter the secular, democratic, Constitution.
In 2003, the first NDA Government headed by Atal Bihari Vajpayee, with the intention of weakening the Constitution, amended the Citizenship Act 1955 to introduce the term “illegal immigrant and deny citizenship to persons who may have one parent who is an “illegal immigrant”. This term “illegal immigrant” is deliberately vague, allowing the Government to enjoy the power to accuse anyone they dislike of being an “illegal immigrant.” The 2003 amendment by the Vajpayee Government also introduced the agenda of National Population Register (NPR), based on which some citizens will be labelled “doubtful”, and will have to show documents to prove citizenship and be included in a National Register of Citizens (NRC), failing which they would be branded “illegal immigrants”. The Vajpayee-era amendment thus gave the “local Registrar” power to label a citizen “doubtful”, and then gave the Government power to harass such “doubtful” citizens and even label them “illegal immigrants” if they fail to show documents. Such an amendment allows the local administration, and the national government (which may be corrupt, or anti-poor, or communal) to label individuals or communities as “doubtful” citizens or “illegal immigrants” based on arbitrary rules that go against the basic principles of India’s Constitution.
The CAA 2019, deepening the damage to the Constitution done by the Vajpayee Government, links granting of Indian citizenship to the religious identity of the applicants – and thus violates the basic spirit of India’s Constitution. The CAA-NPR-NRC project of the Modi-Shah Government aims to carry forward the anti-Constitutional agenda outlined by the Vajpayee Government, and put Indian citizens, Indian voters, at the mercy of corrupt, anti-poor, or communal Government officials.
What is Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA)?
The CAA amends the Citizenship Act 1955, to allow non-Muslim (i.e Hindu, Sikh, Buddhist, Jain, Parsi, Christian) immigrants from Pakistan, Bangladesh, and Afghanistan who have entered India before 31 December 2014 a faster route to become Indian citizens, in 6 years rather than 12 years.
How many such immigrants are there in India now? What is their status now?
According to an Intelligence Bureau (IB) statement at a Parliamentary Committee hearing on the CAB in 2016, there are 31,313 non-Muslim immigrants from Pakistan, Bangladesh, and Afghanistan who entered India before December 2014.
In 2011, the UPA Government notified a Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) in a letter dated 29.12.11, under which any refugee could apply for Long Term Visa (LTV). Those who get LTVs can obtain PAN card, Aadhaar card, driving licences, and even buy property.
Between 2011-2014, UPA granted LTVs to 14,726 (most of them Hindus) from neighbouring countries. Between 2011-2018, some 30,000 persons got LTVs. (See ‘India relaxes rules for long-term visa holders, to grant Pakistani minorities more rights’, India Today, 17 July, 2018).
So – in short – most of the proposed beneficiaries of CAA can and have already got Long Term Visas to stay and earn in India, get PAN cards, Aadhaar cards, driving licences, and buy a house for their family.
Under the Citizenship Act 1955, could immigrants from neighbouring countries get Indian citizenship?
Yes. Under CA 1955, any foreigner of any category could apply for and get Indian citizenship through the Naturalization (Section 6 of the Citizenship Act) or through Registration (Section 5 of the Citizenship Act).
So, if refugees can get protection through Long Term Visas already, and apply for citizenship, why is the Government insisting on CAA?
The CAA’s only notable feature is that discriminates among refugees based on religion, and offers non-Muslim refugees a route to achieve citizenship and voter status via the Naturalization route within 6 years rather than 12 years.
In preparation for the CAA, the Modi-Shah Government amended the LTV rules to create a new category of persons eligible for LTVs through a Gazette of India notification in September 2015. The amended rules allow those from “minority communities in Bangladesh and Pakistan such as Hindus, Sikhs, Buddhists, Jains, Parsis and Christians, who have entered into India on or before 31st December, 2014,” with or without valid documents, or with documents that have expired, to get LTVs. In other words, the Modi-Shah Government brought the LTV rules in line with the Citizenship Amendment Bill which they had drafted.1
Note that non-Muslim refugees from Pakistan, Bangladesh, and Afghanistan who entered India before 2014 already have PAN cards, Aadhaar cards, driving licenses and the right to buy property. What CAA gives them ‘extra’, is the right to vote, which they are eligible for within 6 years of living in India rather than 12 years. For Rohingya Muslims from Myanmar, Tamil refugees from Sri Lanka, or Ahmadiyas and Hazaras from Pakistan or Afghanistan and other refugees/immigrants like Taslima Nasreen from Bangladesh, there is no fast-track route for citizenship and voting rights under CAA.
So, the CAA’s only distinguishing feature is its communal character.
Why does BJP want to hurry up the process of giving non-Muslims from Pakistan, Bangladesh, and Afghanistan citizenship and voting rights, and deny Rohingya, Tamil, Ahmadiya, Hazara and Muslim political refugees the same chance?
BJP is insisting on CAA for three reasons.
1) Because the BJP sees this particular segment of people, especially Hindus from Bangladesh, as a vote bank in Assam and West Bengal. Assam Finance Minister and prominent BJP leader Himanta Biswa Sarma, in an interview to an Assam-based TV channel GPlus in January 2019, explained that, “CAB will allow us to retain 17 seats in Assam for the next 10 years. If you exclude 10,000 Bengali Hindu votes, then such seats will go to UMF or UDF. We are on the verge of losing several seats. If we don’t bring CAB, immediately 17 seats will go. These people who entered Assam before 31 December 2014, they are already there, you are not going to physically remove them. What concession you are allowing them? You are allowing them to vote. By giving that concession, you are keeping 17 seats with you for the time being.”
2) Even more importantly for the BJP and RSS, CAA weakens the secular character of the Indian Constitution by granting citizenship based on religious identity. Under the pre-CAA laws, any refugee or immigrant could apply for citizenship and the government would reject or grant the request based on an assessment of each individual application. The CAA, for the first time, links Indian citizenship to religion, and therefore punctures the Indian Constitution to allow secularism to leak out of it.
3) The third reason is that by the combined process of NRC and CAA, the Modi-Shah regime wants to strip Muslims of citizenship. Amit Shah’s election campaign speeches in West Bengal in April and May 2019 make this clear. In a rally at Kalimpong in Darjeeling district (West Bengal), Amit Shah said, “Hamne hamare ghoshna patra mein wada kiya hain ki dobara Narendra Modi ki sarkar baan ne ke bad deshbhar ke andar NRC banaya jaye ga. Aur ek ek ghuspetiyon ke chun chun kar nikalne ka kaam eh BJP sarkar karega. Aur jitne bhi Hindu, Buddh sharanarthi aye hain sare ko dhund dhund kar Bharat ki nagarikta dene ka kaam bhi BJP sarkar karne wali hain. (We have made a promise in our manifesto that after the Narendra Modi government is formed at the Centre for the second time, we will implement NRC across the country and will weed out out every single infiltrator from the country. The BJP government will also seek out and grant Indian citizenship to every Hindu and Buddhist refugee across the country.” (Indian Express, April 12, 2019)
In another rally at Raiganj in North Dinajpur (West Bengal), Shah said, “Illegal migrants are like termites and we will single out every Bangladeshi infiltrator in West Bengal and throw them out. We will give citizenship to all Hindu, Buddhist, Sikh and Jain refugees.” (Indian Express, April 12, 2019)
In another rally on Bongaon in West Bengal, Shah made it clear that the CAA is meant to be a “safety net” for non-Muslims who get left out of the all-India NRC list: “First we will pass the Citizenship Amendment bill and ensure that all the refugees from the neighbouring nations get the Indian citizenship. After that NRC will be made and we will detect and deport every infiltrator from our motherland.”
Should we not help refugees? I heard that the population of non-Muslims in Pakistan declined from 23% to 3% – surely we should help such persons?
During the debate on the Citizenship Amendment Bill in Parliament, Amit Shah claimed that population of religious minorities in Pakistan has declined from 23% in 1947 to 3.7% in 2011, thanks to ethnic cleansing. This is a lie. He said in Hindi: “1947 main Pakistan ke andar alpasankhyakon ki aabadi 23 pratishat thi, aur 2011 main wo ghat kar 3.7 pratishat ho gayi. Bangladesh main 1947 main aplsankhyakon ki aabadi 22 pratishat thi aur 2011 main wo kam ho kar 7.8 pratishat ho gayi. Kahan gaye ye log? Ya toh unka dharm parivartan hua. Ya wo maar diye gaye, ya bhaga diye gaye, ya Bharat aa gaye.”
A fact check found that:
“1) Population of non-Muslims was never 23 per cent of Pakistan’s total population.
2) Even in undivided Pakistan (i.e before Bangladesh was formed), the share of non-Muslim population never even touched the 15 per cent mark. (The highest was 14.2 per cent in 1951.)
3) When it comes to today’s Pakistan (i.e. erstwhile West Pakistan), non-Muslims comprised 3.44 per cent of the region’s population in 1951.
4) Census data show that share of non-Muslims in Pakistan has hovered around 3.5 per cent over the decades.” (‘No, Pakistan’s non-Muslim population didn’t decline from 23% to 3.7% as BJP claims’, India Today, 12 December 2019)
5) The East Pakistan population was about 23% in 1951. So Shah has selectively picked two disparate figures, East Pakistan or erstwhile Bangladesh from 1951, and today’s Pakistan (erstwhile West Pakistan) figures!
6) The percentage of non-Muslims in Bangladesh of course gone down from 23% to a little less than 10%, thereby indicating a steady decline coupled with phases of sizeable exodus/influx, especially during the Bangladesh liberation war period. The demographic growth in Bangladesh and the growing proportion of Muslims contradict any thesis of massive Muslim immigration from Bangladesh, while Hindu immigration is a fact. The BJP cannot have it both ways! The facts actually disprove the BJP’s false bogey of massive Muslim immigration from Bangladesh.
Should India help refugees? Of course. But we should not distinguish between refugees based on religion.
In Pakistan and Afghanistan, Ahmadiyas and Hazaras face persecution though we see them as “Muslim.” Rohingyas of Myanmar, Uighur Muslims of China, Tamils of Sri Lanka, are all oppressed people in our neighbourhood.
What about “infiltrators”?
The word “infiltrator” is a very biased and hateful one. Undocumented immigrants are not “infiltrators”. The poor migrate in search of work; refugees flee persecution. We need a humane policy towards both immigrants and refugees. Immigrants who are undocumented are not “illegal”. No human being is illegal.
How does the CAA affect India’s foreign policy?
Ever since the formation of Bangladesh, India and Bangladesh have enjoyed a close mutual friendship. Now, to help BJP’s domestic communal calculations and political narrative, the Modi Government is vitiating the foreign policy environment, and injecting hostility into ties that were warm and friendly. A prominent instance of this is the communal discrimination the Modi Government is making among Bangladeshi visitors overstaying in India after expiry of visa period. For non-Muslims from Bangladesh, the fine is Rs 500 for more than two years, Rs 200 for 91 days to two years and Rs 100 for up to 90 days. But for a Muslim from Bangladesh, the charges are in dollars — $500 (Rs35,000), $400 (Rs 28,000) and $300 (Rs 21,000) — for the same duration of overstay. (‘India’s new visa penalty discriminates on religious lines, say Bangladesh officials’, The Hindu, December 10, 2019)
But when Partition happened, did Muslims not choose a separate nation, Pakistan? Congress accepted Partition then. If Pakistan is a Muslim nation should India not be a Hindu nation? Should Muslims not go to Pakistan?
This is what Amit Shah said in Parliament to defend CAA. But this is a lie. The two-nation theory (the theory that Hindus and Muslims are separate nations and cannot coexist) was first proposed by Savarkar, of the Hindu Mahasabha, in his 1923 manifesto, Hindutva – 16 years before Jinnah and the Muslim League did.
Later, at the 19th Session of the Hindu Mahasabha in 1937, three years before Jinnah proposed the two-nation theory, Savarkar said, “There are two antagonistic nations living side by side in India…India can not be assumed today to be a homogenous nation, but on the contrary there are two nations in the main : the Hindus and the Moslems, in India.”2.
The Congress did not accept the two-nation theory though they had to concede to the formation of Pakistan. India was thus formed as a secular nation with a secular Constitution, in which Muslims, Christians, Sikhs etc would have the same status as Hindus. Muslims who live in India today made a choice not to go to Pakistan, and to embrace India as their motherland.
Savarkar, in his articulation of the two-nation theory, would not accept Muslims as part of the Hindu nation, yet would also not concede to the demand for a separate country for them and opposed the demand for Pakistan. The question then arises as to what would happen to the Muslims if India became a Hindu nation. M.S. Golwalkar of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh had this to say about the status of Muslims in India: They “… may stay in the country, wholly subordinated to the Hindu Nation, claiming nothing, deserving no privileges, far less any preferential treatment — not even citizen’s rights.” Clearly this is the future awaiting those who will not be able to prove their citizenship under NRC, and who are not protected by CAA.
The RSS never participated in the freedom struggle – but it did participate fully in the large-scale communal violence during the Partition. (see Box on next page)
RSS Role In Massacre of Muslims During Partition
Narayan Bhaskar Khare of the Hindu Mahasabha was made prime minister of Alwar on April 18, 1947, as well as adviser to the state of Bharatpur. He presided over a large scale massacre of Meo Muslims, a distinctive Rajput Muslim community with a number of Hindu or Rajput practices.
A historian has noted: “In July 1947, Alwar hosted a Hindu Mahasabha conference for the princely states. Soon, a small arms factory was set up in Alwar by Khare and another one in Bharatpur.
“On June 18, 1947, there was a large-scale flight of Meos from Bharatpur to Alwar, and within Alwar to other tehsils. Historian Shail Mayaram has quoted a captain in the Alwar state army on the safaya (cleansing) as the killings were euphemistically termed, and shuddhi, (forced) conversions:
“I was ADC to HH Tej Singh. We were with the RSS. It had been ordered to clear the state of Muslims. I was sent on special duty to Tijara. … I went ahead and posted the force on a hill ..” In the valley below were 10,000 Meos. “We killed every man, all of them.”
Thereafter, in village after village, the army, accompanied by a shuddh squad, compelled Meos, if they wished to live, to eat a piece of pork and convert from Islam. The last battle was at Naugaonwa, “a large Meo stronghold. We butchered them.” As the Meos fled, they were killed at every place: “It took us more than two months, July, August, to clear the whole bloody area.”
Khare rejoiced: “As a result, today there is not a single Muslim in the whole of the Alwar State… In this way, the Meo problem in the State which was troubling the State for several centuries has been solved at least for the time being.”
This is the same language as Hitler calling the genocide of Jews a “Final Solution.” Terming minorities a “problem” and “genocide” a “solution” – this is what the world recognises and despises as fascism.
When interviewed for the oral histories of the Nehru Memorial Museum and Library, Khare exulted that RSS Moonje leader was pleased at this pogrom:
“But Moonje was damn pleased with what I did to the Muslims of Alwar…. He called me to Nasik and embraced me….More than anything else, what I did in Alwar and the way I broke the back of Muslims there pleased Dr Moonje immensely.”
Gandhi went to Mewat and persuaded 100,000 Meos to return to Alwar and Bharatpur. Nevertheless, census records show how the Muslim population which had been 26.2% of Alwar in 1941 and 19.2% of Bharatpur, dropped after the pogroms, conversions and flight, to 6% in both states. “About two-thirds of their land was taken away.”3
Today the RSS and the BJP want another bloody Partition of India, more communal violence. Like the British Raj which the RSS and Hindu Mahasabha never opposed, the BJP today wants to divide and rule us.
If Bangladesh, Pakistan, and Afghanistan are Islamic countries, why should India not be a Hindu country?
Pakistan is an Islamic Republic, where Islam is the state religion. Likewise Islam is the state religion of Bangladesh and Afghanistan also. But India’s Constitution drafted by Dr Ambedkar chose to define India as a secular country, where there is no official state religion. This was to safeguard India’s unity in diversity, its unique plural ethos. The laws and Constitution in India prohibit discrimination on the basis of religion.
Further, attempts to impose a single official culture tends to divide, not unite a country. Pakistan is the biggest example of this. Pakistan was founded as an Islamic country. But Bangladesh broke away because Muslims in Bangladesh felt oppressed on the basis of their language. Pakistan failed to respect diversity and as a result Bangladesh was formed.
Today, if the BJP imposes its “one nation one culture one religion’ model on India, we too will face further division and fractures. Respecting diversity helps us remain united.
CAA Kills Hopes of Sri Lankan Tamils for Citizenship
(Excerpts from ‘CAA: Sri Lankan Tamil Refugees Say The New Law Has Killed Their Hopes Of Citizenship’, KA Shaji, Huffington Post, 23 December 2019)
On December 16, 2019 T. Yanadhan visited the District Collectorate in Salem to express disappointment at the exclusion of Sri Lankan Tamil refugees like him in the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) and to request a mercy killing. The 28-year-old, born in Tamil Nadu to refugee parents who fled the civil war in the neighbouring country, said the new law had all but killed his dream of getting Indian citizenship and he was better off dead.
Yanadhan is one of 95,000-odd Sri Lankan Tamils living in Tamil Nadu, according to data available with the state home department.
More than 65,000 Sri Lankan Tamils, who fled genocide between 1983 and 2009, stay in 107 refugee camps in Tamil Nadu. Some 25,000 of them are children. According to the UNHCR, they are India’s largest refugee group residing in camps. Many thousands of refugees also live outside the camps.
Camp inmates get a meagre monthly allowance from the state—women get Rs 1,000 each, men Rs 750 and children Rs 400. The state enrols children in nearby schools. Non-camp refugees do not receive any allowance.
Being a stateless people, they cannot get marriages or births registered. The government prevents them from acquiring valuables worth more than Rs 2 lakh. And there are few job opportunities for them, in the camps and outside.
The inmates also pointed out that the camps were never meant to be permanent homes but had become just that. “When we came here, we treated it as a temporary arrangement. We never had the intention to live here permanently. We all wanted to return to Sri Lanka after the situation improved,” said Kanthaswamy. “But now, 30 years have passed and our children feel they belong to this land. Our parents, who brought us here, have died. What can our children do?”
What is NRC?
PM Modi and Amit Shah have on multiple occasions claimed that the NRC is a tool to identify and evict “illegal immigrants.” PM Modi himself said this in his interview with Times Now in April 2019 4. Amit Shah, of course, said so on multiple occasions, some of which we have cited above.
In the face of protests, the BJP now says “CAA will not affect citizens.” The issue here is: an all-India NRC will put the citizenship of every Indian in doubt! According to NRC, who is a “citizen”? Who is an “illegal immigrant”? The Government has as yet not clarified the criteria for these. But since the Assam NRC has already been conducted, it can give us a clue about what the all-India NRC will be like.
What was the Assam NRC experience?
According to the Assam NRC, only those people would be recognised as citizens who could show documents proving that
1) their ancestors entered India before 1971
2) they are are descended from those same ancestors
Naturally, showing documents to this effect was hugely difficult, especially for the poor, for women, for transgender people, for Dalits, for adivasis, for migrant labourers, and for people from vulnerable communities.
As a result, more than 19 lakh people have been left out of the Assam NRC list. These 19 lakh are not “illegal immigrants” – they are Indians who lack documents linking them with ancestors. So the Assam NRC has resulted in a massive humanitarian crisis and tragedy. Moreover, no one is satisfied with the Assam NRC final list – least of all the BJP. This painful process involving so much suffering has failed to “separate milk and water”, failed to give any clarity or closure on who is an Indian and who is an “illegal immigrant.” When the Assam NRC experience has ended in such a disaster, in spite of being conducted under Supreme Court supervision, why conduct it in the whole of India?
What would the cut-off date for an all-India NRC be?
The cut-off date for Assam was March 24, 1971 because of a special provision created by the Assam Accord, allowing people who entered Assam before the creation of Bangladesh on that date in 1971, to be considered citizens. The corresponding date for the rest of the country is July 19, 1948.
So would the cut-off date for an all-India NRC be July 19, 1948? That is not clear. The Modi-Shah Government has been vague about the exact dates and details.
But we do know that while rejecting the Assam NRC final list, the central government and the Assam BJP leadership did state that the all-India NRC exercise would mean that a fresh NRC would be conducted in Assam also; that there must be “one nation, one cut-off date”; and this all India cut-off date would be either 1971 or some year prior to 1971, such as 1966, 1961 or 1951.
A news report notes that “Sources in the Union home ministry said the cut-off date for Assam NRC could be preponed from 1971 — the existing cut-off year in the recently concluded NRC. ‘There can’t be two separate mechanisms in one country. If all-India NRC happens then the same cut-off date, same process will be for Assam also,’ a government official said.”5
Another report reported that the BJP Government in Assam wants the Centre to reject the final National Register of Citizens published on 31 August 2019, and “to follow the same cut-off date (1951 instead of 1971) applicable to the rest of the country” for drawing up the Register afresh.6
But has the Central Government not clarified all-India NRC will not require documents like Assam NRC did?
In this clarification, the Government has claimed that “there is absolutely no compulsion to submit any document by/of the parents” in the NRC, and proof of one’s own birth will do. However, they keep an escape route open by adding that “a decision is yet to be taken on the acceptable documents”!
The Government “clarification” is lying. As a journalist noted in a fact-check, “Currently, Indian law is based on citizenship less by birth and more by blood. Even if a person is born in India after December 3, 2004, she will only have Indian citizenship if both his parents are Indian or one is Indian and the other is not an illegal migrant. The criteria for anyone born in India between July 1, 1987, and December 3, 2004, is that at least one parents needs to be Indian. It is only before July 1, 1987, that a person born in India is Indian, irrespective of the citizenship status of his parents. Thus, for a person born after July 1, 1987, he will have to legally prove the citizenship status of either one or both parents. As a result, the government’s clarification makes little sense. In fact, Assam’s National Register of Citizens needed people to prove, with documents, their link with their father or grandfather.”8
Moreover, the National Population Register form doing the rounds now has an extra column for date and place of parents’ birth. This is precisely so that “doubtful citizens” can be identified based on NPR and asked to furnish documents under NRC. (more on this later)
Will documents like voter cards, passports, Aadhaar be enough for the NRC?
The Government “clarification” claims that the the list of acceptable documents is “likely to include voter cards, passports, Aadhaar, licenses, insurance papers, birth certificates, school leaving certificates, documents relating to land or home or other similar documents issued by government officials.”
But the Home Minister Amit Shah himself said in an interview with a news channel on 17 December 2019, that “voter card and other government documents do not decide citizenship, Aadhaar does not decide citizenship at all.”9
So it is clear that the Government is speaking in a forked tongue.
In any case, if voter i-card, Aadhaar card, driving licence etc are enough proof, why do these have to be submitted to the Government, when the Government is the one that has issued these documents?
In other words, why conduct an “NRC” at all, if not to harass people?
So, when the BJP says they will evict “infiltrators”, they mean any Indian who does not have certain documents? They could mean me or my child?
In India, the poor do not even have documents to prove they are “below poverty line” – as a result they are excluded from ration cards. Many poor people have been excluded from Aadhaar, as a result of which they have even died for lack of rations or pensions.
Now, the Government is threatening to exclude the poor from their right to belong to India!
In Assam, in the NRC exercise, more than 19 lakh people were left out of the NRC list, not because they are “illegal immigrants” but because they are poor and lack documents. In many cases, wives are excluded while husbands are included, or a child is excluded while parents are included. The fate of those excluded is uncertain. Those excluded comprise a large number of Hindus, Muslims, adivasis, women, and migrant labour from other states.
If you are not on the NRC list, can you be imprisoned in detention camps?
In Assam, if you are found to be a “doubtful voter” by a Foreigners’ Tribunal, you could be detained indefinitely in a detention centre that is far worse than a jail.
The 19 lakh people left out of the NRC list in Assam face that fate, unless they can convince the Foreigners’ Tribunals that they are not illegal immigrants.
How is CAA linked to NRC?
As we saw above, CAA is designed to separate Muslim from non-Muslim immigrants; and treat the former as “infiltrators” and the latter as “refugees” entitled to apply for Indian citizenship.
As Amit Shah has said repeatedly in his speeches, the Citizenship Amendment Act is meant to act as a sieve to separate the Muslims left out of the NRC list from non-Muslims.
If you are a Muslim and not able to show documents proving you belong in the NRC list, you will lose your vote forever and be imprisoned in a detention centre which is worse than a jail.
If you are non-Muslim and are not able to show documents proving you belong in the NRC list, you may also be thrown in a detention centre and lose your vote. But the Modi-Shah Government is telling you that if you are a non-Muslim, CAA will allow you to claim you are a “refugee” from Pakistan, Bangladesh, or Afghanistan, and apply for Indian citizenship, which you or may not be given after 6 years.
But – if I am a worker from Bihar or TN or Karnataka how can I prove that I am a refugee from Pakistan? Moreover, why should I, an Indian, be asked to make such a claim?
But this so called “safety net” or “lifeline” for non-Muslims left out of NRC is a lie.
How will a Bihari migrant worker, an adivasi woman in Chhattisgarh or Gujarat or Rajasthan, or a farmer in Tamil Nadu or Karnataka or Andhra Pradesh claim and prove that they are a persecuted refugee from Bangladesh, Pakistan, or Afghanistan?
And it is an insult for the Government to ask Indians to prove they are Indians, or else claim they are refugees from Bangladesh or Pakistan or Afghanistan!
It is clear that the NRC+CAA has a diabolical anti-Muslim agenda. But if one’s neighbour’s house is on fire, one’s own house is also bound to burn. It is clear that the so-called CAA safety net for non-Muslims also is full of holes.
NRC+CAA makes us all unsafe – and the only way to resist it is to unite across communities and religious identities to protect ourselves and our Constitution. United we stand, divided we fall!
The Government is saying CAA has nothing to do with NRC, and NRC has nothing to do with religion. I am confused, what is the truth?
Amit Shah himself has repeatedly explained how CAA is linked to NRC.
In a YouTube video uploaded on 23 April 2019 by the BJP’s official channel, Amit Shah explained, “First the CAB will come. All refugees will get citizenship. Then NRC will come. This is why refugees should not worry, but infiltrators should. Understand the chronology.”10
On 1 May 2019, his Twitter handle tweeted, “First we will pass the Citizenship Amendment bill and ensure that all the refugees from the neighbouring nations get the Indian citizenship. After that NRC will be made and we will detect and deport every infiltrator from our motherland.”
Tweeting about Amit Shah’s Raiganj (West Bengal) speech, BJP’s official Twitter handle said, “We will ensure implementation of NRC in the entire country. We will remove every single infiltrator from the country, except Buddha (sic), Hindus and Sikhs.” This tweet makes it clear that NRC and CAA are linked to achieve a blatantly communal agenda. The BJP handle has now deleted this tweet!
But the Prime Minister Modi has made a speech in Delhi claiming that his Government has no NRC plans, that India has no detention centres and all this is fear-mongering by Urban Naxals?
At Ramlila Maidan in Delhi on 22 December 2019, Prime Minister Modi made a speech in which he spoke about the Citizenship Amendment Act, the National Register of Citizens and the ongoing protests against CAA-NRC. But what he claimed in his speech is disproved by his own statements, and those of his Minister, Amit Shah.
In his December 2019 speech Modi said:
“After my government came into power, since 2014 till today, I want to tell the 130 crore countrymen that NRC word has not been discussed anywhere. We had to implement it in Assam only under the Supreme Court’s direction.”
This is a lie. Modi himself has spoken about NRC several times during the 2019 Parliamentary elections, while the BJP manifesto also promised to conduct an NRC.
On 19 April 2019, in an interview to Times Now, Modi was asked about all-India NRC. He replied, “Congress did Assam Accord and promised NRC, but did not fulfil the promise, they fooled Assam’s people. Then Supreme Court gave orders, and we implemented those orders honestly. The experience of the NRC presents a very worrying picture. We should discuss NRC. Can a country be a dharmashala? Should we have an NRC or not? Ask those who have not held an NRC for 70 years – they are the sinners.”11
At an election rally at Ranaghat, West Bengal, on 24 April 2019, Narendra Modi linked NRC with CAA, and said, “We are going to take another big step. We are going to pass a Citizenship law. The TMC, Congress, Communists who stopped the Citizenship Amendment Bill in Parliament are going to be defeated. Once we win we will bring this law. And with this, through NRC, we will start the work of identifying infiltrators, so that they can be sent where they belong.”12
Modi claimed that Congress and ‘urban naxals’ are propagating a lie that the country has detention camps. The truth, he said, is that “India has no detention centres.”
This, too, is a lie.
The Home Ministry of the Modi-Shah Government has framed a ‘Model Detention Centre/Holding Centre/Camp Manual’, which was circulated to all States and Union Territories on 9 January, 2019. Minister of State for Home Nityanand Rai informed the Lok Sabha on 2 July 2018 that State governments have been instructed to set up detention centres.13
The Assam Government’s own website announces that the country’s biggest detention centre, capable of housing 3000 detainees, is nearly ready in Goalpara, Assam. Apart from this, detention centres are also being built in Nerul (Navi Mumbai, Maharashtra), near Bengaluru in Karnataka, and New Town and Bongaon in West Bengal.
Who is Modi hoping to fool, with his lies in Ramlila Maidan?
I heard on TV that Muslim rioters alone are protesting CAA and NRC, and they are being violent, burning buses and pelting stones. Is that true?
PM Modi himself made a speech during Jharkhand elections saying violent protestors could be “identified by their clothes.” He clearly meant that Muslims in caps and beards are the only ones protesting and being violent.
In reality, it is the police in BJP-ruled states, and BJP’s own thugs, who are indulging in violence, and even posing as Muslims so that the latter are blamed.
1. In Murshidabad, West Bengal, for example, five men including one identified BJP cadre, were detained by Murshidabad police after local people caught them dressed in lungi and skullcap, throwing stones at a train engine. (‘Stone gang in fake skullcap held by Murshidabad police’, Telegraph, 20 December 2019)
2. In Gorakhpur, two RSS members — Vikas Jalan and Satya Prakash — were seen among the mob, damaging shops and throwing stones at the police. (‘Blood stains Uttar Pradesh streets’, Telegraph, 21 December 2019)
3. In Delhi, police can be seen flinging stones on people in Mayapuri (https://twitter.com/i/web/status/1116999443226578944)
4. Police in Daryaganj, Delhi were caught on camera breaking off bricks from a building, to pelt from above and blame the protestors (https://video.twimg.com/ext_tw_video/1208033108156567552/pu/vid/352×640/tfGuWAKq9UGeNcVr.mp4?tag=10)
But India has refused to let Muslims be isolated, profiled, and scapegoated by the PM. The “divide and rule” game is up for BJP. All over the country, students of every college and university have come out in solidarity with students of Jamia Millia Islamia and Aligarh Muslim University, to protest the CAA and NRC and also to protest the brutality unleashed by the police on the students in these campuses. The police brutality against Muslims in Uttar Pradesh is also being protested all over India.
24 protestors, as we go to press have died in police, and countless people are grievously injured.
The South Asian Students Against Fascism have compiled evidence that a “vast majority of the violence has been committed by the police and by organized political thugs”. We borrow from and expand on their list below:
1. “Desh ke gaddaron ko, goli maro saalon ko” (shoot the traitors) slogans led by BJP leader Kapil Mishra in Delhi (https://video.twimg.com/ext_tw_video/1208031600564490242/pu/vid/720×720/2N1UsKMZgeGvGMMa.mp4?tag=10)
2. Police firing on unarmed people in Mangaluru, killing two (https://video.twimg.com/ext_tw_video/1208049855609757696/pu/vid/1280×720/HOvsVG8YHUxYrv3W.mp4?tag=10)
Later, when people gathered at a hospital where the two dead bodies were brought, police charged into the hospital, using tear gas inside it and damaging the ICU doors. A doctor at the hospital said, “Police had resorted to lathi charge on patients’ relatives inside the hospital, spreading fear among the patients, doctors and staff.” (‘Mangaluru police used teargas inside hospital, damaged ICU doors’, The Week, 20 December, 2019)
3. Turning a peaceful protest into a violent one – https://video.twimg.com/amplify_video/1208104071996952576/vid/480×848/P1axKpTK64LEAQkl.mp4?tag=13
4. Police damaging a car in Bulandshahr, UP: https://video.twimg.com/ext_tw_video/1208032669851881472/pu/vid/352×640/Jeus4AC0oqJhvs5D.mp4?tag=10
5. Police damaging vehicles in Aurangabad (Bihar) (this is typically done as part of a standard procedure to then later blame protesters for property damage, except unfortunately foe them, nowadays people have smartphone cameras): https://twitter.com/alishakhan102/status/1208461878646542336?s=20
6. CT Ravi, Karnataka BJP, threatening protestors with another Godhra. (‘Godhra-like situation if majority lose patience over CAA: Karnataka minister CT Ravi stirs controversy’, PTI, 21 December 2019)
7. BJP from Haryana’s Kaithal, Leela Ram Gurjar made a speech threatening to “wipe out” Muslims: “Jo log jhooth faila rahe hai main in logon ko batana chahta hu ki Miya ji ye jo aaj ka Hindustan hai woh Gandhi aur Nehru ka nahi Narendra Modi aur Amit Shah ji ka Hindustan hai. Agar ishara ho gaya to ek ghante me safaya kar denge, aur aapki yeh galatfemi door ho jayegi (Those who are spreading lies, I want to tell them that Miya ji (Miya is a form of address for Muslim elders, also used as a slur – ed/), this is not the India of Gandhi or Nehru. It is the India of Narendra Modi and Amit Shah. We will wipe out within an hour if asked to).” (‘On citizenship law protesters, BJP MLA says can finish them off in one hour’, Hindustan Times, 24 December 2019)
8. A journalist from The Hindu arrested in UP or no reason because he was Kashmiri. (‘A first-person account by ‘The Hindu’ correspondent Omar Rashid of how he was picked up, threatened and released by cops’, 20 December, 2019)
9. Woman school teacher, actress, and activist Sadaf Jafar arrested and beaten brutally. (Indian Express, 23 December 2019)
10. Police use blows to the head on protestors (the usual method is blows to the legs): (https://twitter.com/CNNnews18/status/1208046028479352832)
11. Police on a rampage in Gorakhpur (Ajay Singh Bisht’s seat), beating up unarmed protestors: (https://twitter.com/azaadindiacol/status/1208488755473993728?s=20)
12. Video of police forces beating up people and vandalising vehicles in Daryaganj, Delhi: (https://video.twimg.com/ext_tw_video/1208029889346957312/pu/vid/480×848/XqE5vsYyjn1rXGdW.mp4?tag=10)
13. Delhi police quoting the PM on “we know what they look like” to randomly pick up someone who looks Muslim (https://twitter.com/saahilmenghani/status/1208062858669350912?s=20)
14. Delhi police fired illegally on students inside the Jamia campus: (‘New Videos Suggest Delhi Police May Have Fired At Jamia Protesters’, NDTV, 18 December, 2019)
15. Jamia student Mohammad Minhajuddin, dragged from the library and blinded by Delhi police, speaks of his ordeal: (https://www.indiatoday.in/india/video/watch-jamia-student-who-lost-an-eye-in-police-action-narrates-his-ordeal-1630220-2019-12-20)
16. Students at AMU have needed medical amputation of hands, thanks to injuries by stun grenades used by police: (‘Security forces committed ‘unbridled rights violations’ in AMU: fact-finding team’, The Hindu, 24 December 2019)
17. Images of police brutality on students: (https://twitter.com/MaskoorUsmani/status/1206258211679948800)
18. Children being held and beaten with belts by the police – (https://twitter.com/thewire_in/status/1208099148148264960?s=20)
19. More minors being thrashed by the police in UP – (https://twitter.com/imMAK02/status/1208428070425649157?s=20)
20. An 8-year old was killed in a stampede caused by police violence in UP (https://twitter.com/MirrorNow/status/1208315524486254592?s=20)
21. Police firing in UP has cost at least 18 lives. Police claim it is the protestors who opened fire, forcing them to fire in “self-defence.” But evidence points otherwise: (‘Video Suggests UP Cop Opened Fire In Kanpur, Contrary To “No Police Firing” Claim’, NDTV 22 December, 2019)
While the protests in BJP-ruled states have been met with horrific brutality, and the police are waging a brutal war on Muslim communities irrespective of whether or not they are protesting, there are innumerable instances of massive peaceful protest gatherings of lakhs of people in non-BJP ruled states. Clearly it is the BJP Governments and police that are indulging in the violence – not protestors.
Here are links for evidence of peaceful protests:
1. Nagpur, Maharashtra: https://twitter.com/shraddhs/status/1208215489157054464
2. Pune, Maharashtra: https://twitter.com/CPPuneCity/status/1208057982929391616
3. Mumbai, Maharashtra: https://twitter.com/AzmiShabana/status/1207698719115808768
4. Vaniyambadi, Tamil Nadu: https://twitter.com/itssinghswati/status/1207995229455839233?s=20
5. Coimbatore, Tamil Nadu: https://twitter.com/Akshayanath/status/1208084321480761345?s=20
6. Hyderabad, Telangana: https://twitter.com/bemusedlawyer/status/1208439278541295618?s=20
7. Dharavi, Mumbai: https://twitter.com/advsanwar/status/1208728309623873538?s=20
8. Thousands of women in Assam protest CAA https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/india/thousands-of-assam-women-hit-the-streets-to-voice-opposition-to-caa/articleshow/72921123.cms
But in case protestors are violent, surely police violence is justified?
Some people try to justify violent excesses by the police by pointing to violence of protestors.
They say: “Protestors threw stones, so we threw stones (or even fired bullets)”; “Protestors (supposedly) shouted pro-Pakistan slogans, so we asked them to go to Pakistan.”
Journalist Sreenivasan Jain pointed out, “Drawing an equivalence between a lawless mob and lawless cops goes against not just the grain of common sense, but of the police’s own rulebook.” The police are bound by the Constitution and by rules – they cannot and must not take “revenge”.
Moreover, the police has not responded with mob violence by Sangh Parivar outfits with revenge or with bullets. Remember how Inspector Subodh Kumar Singh was killed in Bulandshahr, UP by so-called “gau rakshaks” and Bajrang Dal men in 2018? The same mob also set fire to police vehicles. But UP police on that occasion did not shoot gau rakshaks and Bajrang Dal men or random Hindus dead. They did not force the Hindu community as a whole to pay “compensation” for the damage. They did not kill the accused in any “encounter”. So why are they claiming the right to do this in the case of Muslim or pro-democracy protestors?
The police simply have no right to do what they have done at Meerut and Muzaffarnagar. At Meerut, the SP Akhilesh Narayan Singh was caught on video telling Muslims paying quietly in a lane to “go to Pakistan”. (‘On Camera, UP Cop’s Communal Rant; His Senior Says He “Showed Restraint”’, NDTV, 28 December 2019) In Muzaffarnagar, police and paramilitary forces vandalised the homes of Muslims who had nothing to do with the protests, and told them to go to Pakistan.15 Such conduct by police is a crime against humanity and against India’s Constitution – and should be severely punished.
The Cabinet has approved funds for the National Population Register (NPR). Shah says NPR has nothing to do with NRC. Is that true?
Amit Shah and Modi are lying that NRC has not begun, and that NPR has nothing to do with NRC. In fact, the Ministry of Home Affairs, Shah’s own Ministry, has many times clarified that NPR is the first step towards NRC.
On 18 June 2014, the official Press Information Bureau handle of the Modi Government tweeted about the then Home Minister: “Shri Rajnath Singh directed to take NPR project to its logical conclusion, which is the creation of National Register of Indian Citizens (NRIC).”
A Home Ministry press release dated 26 November 2014 stated clearly that “The NPR is the first step towards creation of National Register of Indian Citizens (NRIC), by verifying the citizenship status of every usual residents (sic).”
On 21 April 2015, Minister of State for Home Affairs Haribhai Parathibhai Chaudhary replied to a question in the Rajya Sabha, stating clearly that “It has been decided that National Population Register (NPR) should be completed and taken to its logical conclusion, which is the creation of National Register of Indian Citizens (NRIC).”
The 2018-19 Annual Report of the Union Home Ministry on page 262 states that “NPR is first step towards creation of NRIC”.
As we have already seen, the Vajpayee Government in 2003 the agenda of National Population Register (NPR), based on which some citizens will be labelled “doubtful”, and will have to show documents to prove citizenship to be included in a National Register of Citizens (NRC), failing which they would be branded “illegal immigrants”. The 2003 amendment also denies citizenship to persons who may have one parent who is an “illegal immigrant”. So, NPR and NRC have been linked right from the beginning in 2003 when they were first introduced by the Vajpayee Government.
Why is the Government now lying? Because the NRC+CAA communal design is exposed, and Hindus, Muslims, and others are afraid of the NRC threat to their citizenship, the Modi-Shah Government now hope to hide the NRC plans and save the CAA first, only to roll out the NPR secretly and then the NRC later.
As journalist Shivam Vij said, “The reason why Modi-Shah are endlessly lying about CAA, NPR, NRC/NRIC is to neutralise the objections and apprehensions. But the plan is on. It’s like a doctor telling a child the injection won’t hurt.”
But the NPR has been conducted before by previous Governments? How is it different this time?
The UPA Government conducted NPR in keeping with the 2003 law passed by the Vajpayee Government. They were wrong to implement NPR. But they did not follow up with the NRC, and they did not pass a communally motivated CAA.
This time, the NPR form has an extra column for date and place of parents’ birth. This is precisely so that “doubtful citizens” can be identified based on NPR and asked to furnish documents under NRC. As we saw above, the Government’s “clarification” is lying that parents’ birth documents will not be sought. If parents’ birthplace and date details are not required, why is the NPR suddenly collecting this data?
Just because the UPA Government made the mistake of implementing the anti-Constitutional NPR, does not mean the Modi-Shah Government must do it now. In the UPA era, we the people of India did not realise the dangers of the NPR, since the Government then did not speak of NRC or CAA. Today, it is we the people of India – not just the Congress or the UPA – who are opposing the Government’s CAA-NPR-NRC plan. Today we have realised how dangerous this plan is – and we will not allow any present or future Government to go ahead with it.
On what basis can I be declared a “doubtful” citizen?
The process is arbitrary. There are no clear guidelines mentioned as to the basis for declaring someone a “doubtful” citizen.
This means there is huge room for corruption. Some local official will have the power to declare you “doubtful” – and so can demand a bribe not to declare you doubtful. (In UP, already we have seen cops demanding money not to kill you in encounter. Now, such corrupt policemen or administrators could demand money with threats to declare you “doubtful.” If your neighbours do not like you because of your caste, gender, sexual orientation, or political beliefs, they may report you as “doubtful”. Some communal outfit could report entire communities of religious minorities as “doubtful”.
Remember, you can be accused of being “doubtful” even AFTER you make it to NRC list – as has happened in Assam. The rules allow any person to file objections against the inclusion of any person in the Local Register of Citizens. The scope for abuse here is enormous, especially when large sections of India’s people are illiterate, poor, and vulnerable.
Will the data collected from me under NPR be safe?
The form of NPR 2020 shows that you will be required to give numbers of almost all your Identity cards. That includes your Aadhar, Pan, Voter Id, DL etc. You will be required to give your mobile phone number as well. Once you give these comprehensive set of your sensitive private data to a government official, who comes to your doorstep and notes down in hard copy formats, you are no more in a position to save the privacy and confidentiality of these crucial data. We have already seen how AADHAAR data got leaked on multiple occasions despite claims of ‘invincible’ data protection cover.
But in the NPR data collection process, there is not even any pretence of ‘password’ protection or encryption, as you will be forced to part with these information to the visiting official. You do not know for what purpose these would be used, whether individual and bulk data will be photocopied and given away by the people handling them for a price to motivated forces. May be all your private sensitive information will be available for sale in xerox copies in the mohalla pan shop. The ruling party can access the data. It would be a great threat for the health of democracy in India. Why must we be forced to give these personal information to the government officials or for all kinds unknown and possibly mischievous uses?
The Government’s alibi that these information sought are ‘optional’ /voluntary and not compulsory does not hold water.
1. Firstly, columns for these information are categorised as ‘if available’ NOT as optional. What does that mean? Can an individual rightfully say he has a DL or PAN or Voter Id, but the id number is not available to him/her. Then s/he would be liable to lying!
2. Secondly, common citizens can hardly be expected to make such fine line distinction between which info is compulsory, which is optional etc. They generally act in blind good faith, and tend to give their personal details whenever any sarkari babu approaches, essentially unaware of the implicit dangers of parting with such critical information. Govt is banking on this unquestioning faith of our citizens, while pretending to keep the columns as ‘if available’.
3. Thirdly, who knows that the sarkari babu doing the enumeration and survey will not put adverse remarks against all those who refuse to provide these information under their ‘persuasion’ /pressure? We know, NPR manual allows for further interrogation of all those whose forms will be marked as incomplete or carry adverse remarks, causing further harassment and even pushing them to the category of ‘doubtful citizens’. Indeed, the babu can extract every possible data by showing the fear of such harassment and trauma.
What happens if I am declared “doubtful”?
A District Magistrate may refer a ‘doubtful citizen’ to a Foreigners Tribunal. Foreigners Tribunals are headed by individuals without any judicial experience. In Assam, Foreigners Tribunals competed with each other to be the “highest wicket taker” – i.e declare the maximum number of persons to be “foreigners.”16
If you are branded “doubtful” or a “foreigner”, you are likely to be sent to a detention centre – these are worse than jails.
As a research team of lawyers observed, “As per the present law, the burden will be on the individual to prove citizenship. So, the consequences of any wrongful exercise of discretionary powers of the NRC officials could be drastic : the de-legitimization of a person. It can be devastating for a majority of Indians in inverse order to their proximity to privilege, paperwork and social power.”
There are conflicting reports in papers about Banks requiring religion to be disclosed in KYC documents. The Government has denied this. What is the truth?
The Times of India reported that “Eerily similar to the Citizen (Amendment) Act, the amendments by the Reserve Bank of India to the Foreign Exchange Management Regulations, issued in 2018 are limited to migrants who are from minority communities — Hindus, Sikhs, Buddhists, Jains, Parsis and Christians — from Pakistan, Bangladesh and Afghanistan and hold long-term visas (LTVs). These LTV holders can buy residential property and open bank accounts in India. The rules exclude atheists, Muslim migrants as well as those from other neighbouring countries such as Myanmar, Sri Lanka and Tibet.”17
But here again, the Government is trying to fool us (as Yudhisthir did when he said “Ashwatthama (the elephant) is dead” to Drona in the epic Mahabharata!
Who is a “citizen”? Under NRC+CAA, as we have seen, there is a bid to strip many of citizenship. Of those who stand to lose citizenship, the non-Muslims can apply for citizenship under CAA. And till they get citizenship again, the Government has acted to ensure that only non-Muslim refugees from Pakistan, Afghanistan, Bangladesh can get Long Term Visas (LTVs) to avail of various rights including the right to open a bank account!
As we saw above, in 2011, the UPA Government notified a Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) in a letter dated 29.12.11, under which any refugee could apply for Long Term Visa (LTV). Those who get LTVs can open a bank account, obtain PAN card, Aadhaar card, driving licences, and even buy property.
In 2015 the Modi-Shah Government started an LTV category for non-Muslims from Pakistan, Afghanistan, Bangladesh. This is why the religion column has been introduced in the KYC.
If I am Indian why should I hesitate to prove my citizenship to the Government? Surely the Government has the right to ask for documents if it wishes?
Democracy means that we the people of India elect the Government – the Government does not get to select the people. Documents are not the basis of citizenship – willingness to embrace and abide by India’s Constitution is the basis of citizenship.
The Government and Parliament is elected by our votes. If the citizenship of voters who elected the MPs and Government is “doubtful”, then the Government and Parliament is also doubtful – let the Government and MPs resign! The Government and MPs we elected have no right to question our citizenship, our relationship with our country – based on documents.
The Constitution of India begins with the Preamble, which in turn begins with the defining expression ‘we, the people of India’. All power flows from and resides in the people who are the bedrock of India’s sovereignty. The people elect governments in accordance with the Constitution and governments are duty-bound to uphold the Constitution.
In a complete reversal of this relationship of the people holding the government accountable, we now have the government making constant demands on the people. The onus is shifted on the people to prove that their money is legitimate (demonetization), that they are not terrorists or engaged in unlawful activities (UAPA) and now that they are legal citizens of this country (CAA-NRC).
As advocate Gautam Bhatia explained, “To solve a crime, you don’t drag everyone in the area to the police thana and force them to prove they didn’t do it. To detect some undocumented migrants, you don’t drag all 1.3 billion Indians to the local babu and force them to prove their citizenship.”
In fact, we the citizens have a right to demand documents and information from the Government – which the Modi Government consistently refuses to share with us!
Government: Kaagaz nahin dikhayenge
Electoral bonds donation details?
Government: Kaagaz nahin dikhayenge
Government: Kaagaz nahin dikhayenge
Rafale deal papers?
Government: Kaagaz nahin dikhayenge
Government: Kaagaz nahin dikhayenge
How dare this Government harass us, the voters, to prove our citizenship?!
How much will the NRIC cost?
The Assam NRC cost Rs 1,600 crore, took 10 years and a staff of 52,000 people, not to mention untold suffering and pain for innocent, poor people. An all-India NRC will cost at least Rs 50,000 crore. India’s people will spend the next decade scrambling desperately to find documents to prove citizenship in this unnecessary and cruel exercise.
Why waste money on NRC+CAA? Instead, why does the Government not prepare a register of unemployed people – and give them unemployment allowance or jobs?
Clearly, the Modi-Shah Government has already begun the process of jeopardising citizenship and communally discriminating against Muslims. What can I do to stop this?
The Constitution drafted by Dr Ambedkar held Muslims, Hindus, Sikhs, Christians, Jains, Buddhists, Jews, everyone to be equal. The RSS always hated this Constitution. The BJP wants to poison our minds and divide India into Hindu and Muslim. Such division can only weaken the country and harm everyone. If someone sets fire to our neighbours’ house, our house will also burn. We must unite to save our house.
Demonetization of notes destroyed our jobs and economy. We must all prevent the government from unleashing this new disaster on the country, which threatens to destroy the Constitution and divide the country.
India’s people are all protesting – Muslims, Hindus, Sikhs, Christians, people speaking every language and belonging to every faith. They are all united to save India’s democracy and Constitution.
Is Modi Copying Hitler’s Citizenship Laws?
Just two years after Adolf Hitler of the National Socialist German Workers’ Party (NSDAP) came to power in Germany, he made good on his promises – he introduced laws to redefine citizenship of Germany. The Nuremberg Laws may have started with the segregation of Jews from non Jews, but there were further supplementations to these laws that included all manner of ‘undesirables’, and finally paved the way for the mass murder of not only Jews, but indigenous peoples, homosexuals, the disabled, anyone who criticised the Nazi establishment, Communists, and anyone the German State saw as Staatsfeind, an enemy of the State. Nazi propaganda, through print and radio had already prepared the ground that then saw the construction of ghettoes and concentration camps.
Remember, the RSS has always hated India’s Constitution and admired Hitler’s divisive policies instead. Golwalkar described Hitler’s purging of Germany’s Jews (something Germany and the world today consider a shame) as “German race pride” and “a good lesson for us in Hindusthan to learn and profit by.” (M. S. Golwalkar, We or Our Nationhood Defined, 1938, p. 35) He also said that Muslims, Christians, Sikhs and other minorities “must either adopt the Hindu culture and language, must learn to respect and hold in reverence Hindu religion, must entertain no idea but those of the glorification of the Hindu race and culture, i.e., of the Hindu nation and must lose their separate existence to merge in the Hindu race, or may stay in the country, wholly subordinated to the Hindu Nation, claiming nothing, deserving no privileges, far less any preferential treatment not even citizen’s rights.” (M. S. Golwalkar, We or Our Nationhood Defined, 1938, p. 47-48)
Today the Modi-Shah regime and the RSS want to bring Golwalkar’s divisive design to life. In the process they want to bring Ambedkar’s nightmare into existence. Dr. Ambedkar warned in 1940: “If Hindu Raj becomes a reality then it would be greatest menace to this country.” Today that menace is close to becoming a reality. Remember, Hindu Raj will be a menace not only for Muslims but for Dalits, adivasis, women, poor workers, farmers – everyone. It will be a dictatorship, a tanashahi.
Today, in India, we still have a chance to prevent this menace, this tanashahi, this Hitlershahi from becoming a reality.
We can honour the common legacy of sacrifice bequeathed to us by Ashfaqullah Khan and Ram Prasad Bismil – and defend our common citizenship.
What can I do to stop this disaster and save my country and Constitution?
Learn the facts, be prepared, and get your friends and family to join peaceful protests.
In every street, lane, locality, colony, village, town and city, organise people to:
1) demand that the Central Government scrap CAA
2) demand that your state government immediately halt the NPR exercise and refuse to implement NRC. Approach your local MLA and ask them to make sure the state Assembly passed a resolution to this effect. Remember, making statements against NRC is not enough – the said state government must immediately halt the NPR process which is already underway.
3) demand that the central and state governments immediately halt construction of detention centres.
4) Do a ‘darwaaza band’ (close the door, kadavai moodu, talupu mūsivēyandi, baagilu moochu, kabat banda kara, dawrja bawndo, dorja bondho korok, inghap ingkir non, and in every other language in India) satyagraha when officials come to collect your family data under NPR. Remember, they are not making a register to give you a house or a job – they are making a register to steal your citizenship and divide our country on religious lines. So like the freedom fighters did satyagraha (civil disobedience) during the freedom struggle, we the people of India need to conduct satyagraha now to save our country and Constitution. By closing the door on NPR, we are closing the door on fascism, on tyranny (tanashahi).
5) If you are non-Muslim, reach out to help and keep safe those Muslim neighbours who are facing violence from the police and communal elements. Offer to accompany Muslim neighbours to public places, offer your phone number as an emergency contact in case they face harassment or violence. Calmly confront and raise your voice against every single act of hate that you see. Do not be silent, do not be violent. Speak up for love and truth.
6) Above all – stay united. If anyone tries to come and spread hatred or violence against some other community, tell them – united we stand, divided we fall. Be united to defend the Constitution.
- 1. see https://mha.gov.in/PDF_Other/AnnexVI_01022018.pdf
- 2. V. D. Savarkar, Samagra Savarkar Wangmaya : Hindu Rashtra Darshan, vol.6, Maharashtra Prantik Hindusabha, Poona, 1963, p.296
- 3. See ‘Alwar’s Long History of Hindutva Casts a Shadow Even Today’, Kannan Srinivasan, The Wire, 29 January 2018. This piece quotes extensively from work by the historian Shail Mayaram
- 4. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ffGW_keVL9A
- 5. Will 1971 Remain Cut-off for Assam? Centre Mulls Advancing Year Before Rolling Out Pan-India NRC’, CNN News18, 21 November 2019
- 6. ‘Assam final NRC boomerangs’, The Telegraph, 21 November 2019
- 7. https://pibindia.wordpress.com/2019/12/20/q-a-on-nrc-national-register-of-citizens/
- 8. ‘Will NRC only target Muslims? A government clarification directly contradicts Amit Shah’, Shoaib Daniyal, Scroll, 21 December 2019
- 9. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eNd792HSl_A&t=6s
- 10. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Z__6E5hPbHg&feature=emb_title
- 11. See minute 47:00 onwards https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ffGW_keVL9A&t=2994s
- 12. Minute 16:53 onwards here https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vgG2n3vZcXg
- 13. ‘Detention centre manual’, Telegraph, 24 December 2019
- 14. ‘28 deaths in Assam’s detention camps, minister tells Rajya Sabha’, Telegraph, 27 November 2019
- 15. ‘Cops Barged Into Our Homes at Night, Smashed Everything, Snatched Cash and Jewellery, Say Muzaffarnagar’s Muslim Families’, CNN News18, 25 December 2019
- 16. ‘‘The highest wicket-taker’: Assam’s tribunals are competing to declare people foreigners’, Arunabh Saikia, Scroll.in, 19 June, 2019
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