What is the new citizenship amendment law and why it erupted protests?
The citizenship Amendment Act also is known as CAA was amended on the 11th of December 2019 and the bill was passed by Rajya Sabha. The CAA bill aims to grant Indian citizenship to the Hindu, Sikh, Parsi, Buddhist and Christian immigrants of India’s neighboring countries, Pakistan, Afghanistan, and Bangladesh except for the Muslim population of those counties which has sparked numerous protests all across India.
The CAA aims to amend the definition of an illegal immigrant for the Sikh, Parsi, Hindu and Christian immigrants of Pakistan Afghanistan and Bangladesh who have lived in India without documentation.
As per the CAA, they will be granted fast-track Indian citizenship in six years instead of 12 years that has been the standard eligibility period of residing in India to claim naturalization.
The protestors being unhappy of the CAA say that the bill discriminates against Muslims and therefore violates the Art.14 that talks about the Right to Equality envisaged under the Constitution of India.
According to the Indian Intelligence Bureau post the CAA about 31,300 new citizens will be added to India’s 1.3 billion population. Of this, about 25,400 will be Hindus, 5,800 Sikhs, and 60 Christians and other religious minorities.
Excluding the Muslims of the neighboring nations has also been criticized by the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights who’ve called it ‘fundamentally discriminatory’ saying that while India’s goal of protecting persecuted groups is welcome, this should be accomplished through a non-discriminatory “robust national asylum system’.
Critics raise concerns that the CAA would be used along with the National Register of Citizens (NRC) TO RENDER Muslim immigrants stateless.
Exclusion of persecuted religious minorities from other regions such as Sri Lanka, Tibet and Myanmar have also been questioned by the critics.
What does the Indian Government Opine?
The government of India says Pakistan, Bangladesh, and Afghanistan are countries with Muslim majorities where Islam is declared as the official state religion and therefore Muslims in Islamic countries are unlikely to face persecution and cannot be treated as “persecuted minorities”.
Protests against the CAA flared all through the nation causing intense damage to the public property and loss of lives. Violent demonstrations against the bill could be seen in Assam and Northeastern States.
In other parts of India, people demanded that Indian citizenship to be given to Muslim refugees and immigrants.
Universities in India too witnessed intense protests. Students of Jamia Millia Islamia and Aligarh University alleged “brutal’ suppression of the Police in Delhi.
The protests so far have led to several deaths and injuries of the protestors and Police personnel and have also caused huge loss to the public and private properties, the detention of over a thousand people and shutting down of the local internet and communication infrastructure.
Some states opposing the CAA said they wouldn’t let it implement in the state which later was clarified by the Union Home Ministry that the states lack the legal power to stop the implementation of the CAA.