Communalism, CPI-ML New Democracy

Oppose CAB, Reject NRC

On December 9, 2019 Home Minister Amit Shah introduced Citizenship Amendment Bill in Lok Sabha which was passed by that house. The Bill seeks to amend the Indian Citizenship Act, 1955. The declared objective of the Amendment is set in the Statement on Equity, Accountability and Innovation as Appendix-II to the Bill, which states, “It will enable the acquisition of Indian citizenship form the date of his entry into India by a person belonging to Hindu, Sikh, Buddhist, Jain, Parsi and Christian communities from Afghanistan, Bangladesh and Pakistan who was forced or compelled to seek shelter in India due to persecution on grounds of religion or fear of such persecution in his country.” For this objective, a proviso will be added to the Section 2, sub-section (1) Clause (b) of the Indian Citizenship Act, 1955, “Provided that any person belonging to Hindu, Sikh, Buddhist, Jain, Parsi or Christian community from Afghanistan, Bangladesh or Pakistan, who entered into India on or before the 31st Day of December, 2014 and who has been exempted by the Central Government by or under clause (c) of sub-section (2) of section 3 of the Passport (Entry into India) Act, 1920 or from the application of the provisions of the Foreigners Act, 1946 or any rule or order made there under shall not be treated as illegal migrant for the purpose of this Act.”

From both the purpose of the Act given in the statement and the proviso added, it is clear that this amendment is discriminatory as it seeks to keep Muslims migrants out of the ambit of acquiring citizenship in India. In the logic of RSS Muslims cannot claim to be victim or under fear of persecution in a Muslim majority country and for that purpose, countries chosen are all Muslim majority countries. The Amendment lacks any basis in any historical factor or in the present condition of religious persecution in the neighbouring countries. Afghanistan has been added only because it is a Muslim majority country. It was never a part of the British empire and hence not part of the communal division of India. There are many countries in India’s neighbourhood like Myanmar and Sri Lanka where minorities are facing persecution and which were even part of British Indian empire in the past. These have been kept out because in Myanmar, it is Muslims who are victims of one of the most heinous religious cleansing. Over a million have been thrown out of that country, of them more than six lakhs are living in refugee camps in Bangladesh. But the communal heart of RSS cannot feel the plight of these Muslims which has become a worldwide issue. Nor Sri Lanka has been included in the list of these countries where minorities including Tamils are facing discrimination and persecution. Moreover, there are sections among Muslims who face persecution and discrimination even in the countries included in the list but barred from the Amendment. Everyone is aware of these complaints of Shias and Ahmediyas in Pakistan just to name a few, the latter today the largest minority in Pakistan. Hence, it is clear that it is not the aim of the Amendment to extend a friendly hand to the victims of persecution, even persecution on the ground of religious beliefs but just to keep Muslims out. The Amendment seeks to further communal agenda of RSS-BJP and is part of their Hindutva fascist offensive.

While introducing the Amendment, Amit Shah referred to religious killings during partition of India and large scale migration of Hindus and Sikhs from erstwhile Pakistan, even referring to Dr. Manmohan Singh and Mr. L. K. Advani. But he was conspicuously silent on inclusion of Afghanistan in that list which was not part of that partition. Anyway, partition of India carved out by British colonial rulers in connivance with main parties of Indian elite- big landlords and big capitalists- Congress and Muslim League, is now more than 72 years old and new realities have emerged in the sub-continent. In the aftermath of 1947, Hindus and Sikhs were forced to migrate from erstwhile Pakistan and Muslims from several parts of India. The religious background of the migrants was inherent in the partition of the country but it was not incorporated in the constitutional framework of post-British India nor in the laws framed for the refugees. But the Hindutva rulers of the day, want to complete their agenda of Hindu Rashtra.

CAB is being opposed by all progressive, democratic and secular organizations and individuals. CAB is being opposed as it is targeted against a particular community and is opposed to the provisions of the Constitution which grants equality particularly Article 14 of the Constitution. Besides these forces, there is a widespread opposition to the Bill in North-Eastern states where a Bandh, supported by a large number of organizations, is being observed today (December 10) against CAB. These small states fear that a large influx of migrants may change demography of these states.

RSS-BJP has sought to meet these apprehensions because their real target is Hindu heartland, especially in North and Central India. It is there they want to deepen the communal division. The real purpose is to reduce Muslims to virtual non-citizens, they are any way second class citizens, but citizens nonetheless. By deepening the communal division Hindutva forces want to disrupt the unity of the oppressed people and mobilize the majority community under the hegemony of upper castes. Through these designs they wish to raise the spectre of “national danger” and impose fascist rule over the country in the interest of big capitalists, big landlords and the imperialists. It is not a co-incidence that this offensive has come at a time when economic crisis is deepening, both agriculture and industries are facing stagnation and downturn, people’s hardships are increasing, unemployment rising. It is in this situation that the corporate are pushing the Govt. for the bounties at the expense of the people and Govt. is pushing communally divisive conspiracies for that end. These communal conspiracies in the name of the majority community is in fact the interests of the common people including those belonging to majority community.

RSS-BJP has ‘tactically’ left out some regions from the operation of CAB. These include areas under Sixth Schedule and states with Inner Line Permit (ILP). According to the Bill passed by Lok Sabha, after section 6A of the principal Act, the following section shall be inserted namely-

(4) nothing in this section shall apply to tribal area of Assam, Meghalaya , Mizoram and Tripura as included in the Sixth Schedule to the Constitution and the area covered under the “The Inner Line” notified under the Bengal Eastern Frontier Regulation, 1873.”

In Lok Sabha, Amit Shah announced that Manipur will also be included in IPL which hitherto had only Arunachal Pradesh, Mizoram and Nagaland under this regime notified under Section 2 of the Bengal Eastern Frontier Regulation, 1873. Citizens of other states require ILP for visiting these three states. This was to douse protests in Manipur which was hitherto provided for under Article 371(c) of the Constitution. Article 371C provided Special provision with respect to the State of Manipur provided that “..the President may, by order made with respect to the State of Manipur, provide for the constitution and functions of a committee of the Legislative Assembly of the State consisting of members of that Assembly elected from the Hill Areas of that State, for the modifications to be made in the rules of business of the Government and in the rules of procedure of the Legislative Assembly of the State and for any special responsibility of the Governor in order to secure the proper functioning of such committee.” It also provided “The Governor shall annually, or whenever so required by the President, make a report to the President regarding the administration of the Hill Areas in the State of Manipur and the executive power of the Union shall extend to the giving of directions to the State as to the administration of the said areas Explanation In this article, the expression Hill Areas means such areas as the President may, by order, declare to be Hill areas.”

The Sixth Schedule of the Constitution deals with the administration of the tribal areas in the four northeastern states of Assam, Meghalaya, Tripura and Mizoram as per Article 244. The Governor is empowered to increase or decrease the areas or change the names of the autonomous districts.

Amit Shah had earlier announced about annulment of NRC in Assam whose final draft was made public though not notified till date. Now Section 68  of the Amendment Bill provides, “(3) On and from the date of commencement of the Citizenship Amendment Act, 2019, any proceeding pending against a person under his section in respect of illegal migration or citizenship shall stand abated on conferment of citizenship to him.” This would mean that with respect to Assam only Muslims who were left out of the final list, will need to prove their citizenship or be treated as foreigners while other sections will automatically qualify for the citizenship. RSS-BJP which had put astronomical figures on the Muslim migrants to Assam were shaken by the final list which had only nearly one fourth of them among the excluded from the final draft. Presence of a large number of Bengali Hindus threatened the Bengal project of RSS-BJP to deepen communal division in that state and mobilize Bengali Hindus behind them.

(The Bill was passed in the Rajya Sabha too with the support of JD(U), AGP, Biju Janata Dal, Akali Dal and YSRCP on December 11 and received Presidential Assent on December 12, 2019.)