On 12 December 2019, The President of India gave assent to the CAB (Citizenship Amendment Bill), which was then given the status of an Act. The implementation of this bill started on 20th December 2019. This is an amendment to the act passed in 1955 and gives illegal immigrants who are Hindus, Jains, Sikhs, Buddhists, Parsis and Christians from Afghanistan, Pakistan and Bangladesh who entered India before 31 December 2014, right to access fast tract citizenship.
The Union Minister Mansukh Mandaviya gave citizenship certificates to seven refugees from Pakistan on 20th December 2019. They were the first ones to benefit from this act. According to Intelligence Bureau Records, more than 31,000 people will benefit from this act. It aims to protect some persecuted minorities from discrimination according to Home Minister Amit Shah. He claims it as an act of Humanity. But still there are many people who are opposing this act. There have been various protests in our country like in Shaheen Bagh, Assam etc.
Let us discuss the criticisms and shortcomings of the act as stated by the protestors.
The first and foremost criticism of this act pertains to the exclusion of Muslims from it. This implies that the NDA is trying to divide people on the basis of religion. To this, government officials respond that there are more than 50 countries which have Muslim people as majority of the population and only 1 country which has Hindu population as its majority. But then we must take cognizance of the fact that there are various sects of Muslims who face discrimination in Pakistan itself, like the Shias. According to Human Rights Watch, thousands of Shias have been attacked in the country since 2008.
The next criticism is that it does not include other people like atheists who also face discrimination and face attacks and persecution due to their disbelief in god. However, the Government is silent on this question. This indicates that the current government does not value the principles of secularism and accountability to its citizens.
The next criticism is that it will increase illegal immigration to India as distributing the citizenship of the country will lead to people coming in large numbers, who will then somehow try to get citizenship. It will make the situation very similar to that when Bangladesh got independent in 1971, leading to influx of illegal immigration in north eastern states on India.
The most challenging task would be to provide employment opportunities to these. The unemployment rate in our country is at a forty-five year high. The government still has no plans to increase employment opportunities in the country.
It has also led to decline in our relations with Bangladesh and other South Asian countries. Their Government officials have been cancelling the meets in our nation which is not a good indicator as India is not now having good relations with China, Pakistan, Sri Lanka and other neighboring countries
We must know that CAA is not just a single step, it is the first step of the sequence. The next steps as per the chronology is NRC (National Register of Citizens). Its purpose is to document all the legal citizens of India so that the illegal immigrants can be found.
For now, we can observe that the intention of the government is to save some of the people from facing discrimination but it is not enough to have good intentions only, there need to be some good steps as well. We discussed all the consequences of this act and still the government has passed it. The question is why and the answer is only one – DISTRACTION. Hence, we need to raise our voices against the wrong deeds of our government and stop it from using the policy of distract and rule. This is our right and we must do it not only as a citizen of India but also as human beings.