Modi-2 Plans Publication of NRC in Assam, Followed by All India NPR based on the communal amendments in the bill before Rajya Sabha to be, followed by Detention Camps for millions who lose citizenship! Should We Not React?
Comrades and Compatriots,
- According to reports, about four million people, mostly Muslims, living presently in Assam for many years are going to lose citizenship in the NCR for Assam to be released in its final form on 31st According to BJP governments at centre and in Assam, this NRC is now finalized including the names of those persons (or their descendants) in the NRC, 1951, or in any of the ElectoralRolls up to the midnight of 24 March 1971, or in any one of the other admissible documents issued up to mid-night of 24 March 1971, which would prove their presence in Assam or in any part of India on or before 24 March 1971. Those 4 million who may lose citizenship will get 120 days more for presenting their appeal to the Foreigners Tribunals for reconsideration.
- The Citizenship Act of 1955, a result of the freedom movement recognized that every person who was born in India, irrespective of religion, would be eligible for Indian citizenship. Another method of obtaining citizenship was through descent – if either parent was a citizen of India. A third method of obtaining citizenship was by registration. A person who has been staying in India for one year or seven years (depending upon whether she or he is of Indian origin or not, broadly), could apply for being registered as a citizen. Among the other methods of obtaining citizenship was the method of naturalization. A person who had stayed in India for over 11 years was eligible of applying for becoming a citizen under it. The law for registration and naturalization was applicable to all persons from all countries and all religions. However, it was made clear that “illegal migrants” would not be eligible for citizenship. The Citizenship Act of 1955 defines “illegal migrant” as a person who enters India without a proper visa or other valid travel document or, who, having entered with a valid document or visa, stays beyond the time permitted for stay in such a visa.
- The BJP government moved the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill of 2016 whose Statement of Objects and Reasons says (excerpted):
Under the existing provisions of the Act, persons belonging to the minority communities, such as Hindus, Sikhs, Buddhists, Jains, Parsis and Christians from Afghanistan, Bangladesh and Pakistan, who have either entered into India without valid travel documents or the validity of their documents have expired are regarded as illegal migrants and hence ineligible to apply for Indian citizenship. It is proposed to make them eligible for applying for Indian citizenship.
Many persons of Indian origin including persons belonging to the aforesaid minority communities from the aforesaid countries have been applying for citizenship under section 5 of the Act, but are unable to produce proof of their Indian origin. Hence, they are forced to apply for citizenship by naturalization under section 6 of the Act, which, inter alia, prescribes twelve years residency as qualification for naturalization in terms of the Third Schedule to the Act. This denies them many opportunities and advantages that may accrue only to the citizens of India, even though they are likely to stay in India permanently. It is proposed to amend the Third Schedule to the Act to make applicants belonging to minority communities from the aforesaid countries eligible for citizenship by naturalization in seven years instead of the existing twelve years.
But, while the bill explains that the sections mentioned above shall not be treated as illegal migrants for the purposes of this Act, nothing is said about the minorities like Muslims, or among the Muslims, the Bohri’s, Khojas and Ahmeddiyas, who are persecuted even in Muslim countries.
- The preamble of our constitution calls for a secular country, whatever may be the meaning of secularism. Article 15 of the constitution of India prevents the discrimination, by the state, against any citizen of India on the basis of religion. It is clear that the proposed law is against the right to equality and the right against discrimination given by the constitution. These amendments to the citizenship law are communally conceptualized. It puts forward an abstract notion of a religious Hindu state, not one conforming with the existing modern reality, Article 25 specifically states that “every person” will have the right to freely “profess, practice and propagate religion”. These amendments show BJP government’s intention to follow Israel, the only country which allows citizenship on the basis of religion. This too is not on the basis of “naturalization” but on the basis of the unique “right of return”, a special Israeli law. All Jews have the right to return to the “promised land” In fact, the true intentions behind the new citizenship amendments put forward under Modi regime is to establish the “right of return” to an “Akhand Bharat” of the RSS. They would like the whole of the sub-continent to become a part of a great Hindu nation. Unable to come close to it or even to justify it, they had given it a back seat to this rhetoric for long. The proposed amendment to the citizenship law is the first stirring for bringing back this archaic and unjust concept.
- In this bill there is also a threat to the diasporas. The Government is given the right to cancel the “overseas citizen of India” status of any person if they violate any law of India. That means that an OCI card can be cancelled if they do anything against the liking of RSS parivar.
- This Citizenship (Amendment) Bill for amending the 1955 Citizenship Act was introduced in Lok Sabha on July 19 2016. It was referred to the Joint Parliamentary Committee on August 12 2016. The JPC submitted its Report on January 7, 2019, and the Lok Sabha passed it on January 8. But it is not yet passed by the Rajya Sabha. 2 is planning to pass it in the Rajya Sabha at the earliest, or if this is not possible, bypassing the legal aspects involved including the convening of a joint session of the parliament. This bill is for granting citizenship to migrants on communal basis (from Afghanistan, Bangladesh and Pakistan) including Hindu, Sikh, Buddhist, Jain, Parsi, and Christian and totally excluding Muslims. Against this, in 2016 itself violent protests took place in Assam, Mizoram, Meghalaya, Nagaland, Manipur, Tripura and Arunachal Pradesh, alleging that the bill is going to make these states dumping grounds for the migrants.
- In its Election Manifesto BJP had called for updating the National People’s Register based on the amendments proposed in the bill in a time bound manner as is done to NCR for Assam, to throw out all illegal migrants from India as Amit Shaw announced in parliament and later repeated in the president’s speech on the eve of 15th In accordance with this plan, the MINISTRY OF HOME AFFAIRS (OFFICE OF THE REGISTRAR GENERAL CITIZEN REGISTRATION, INDIA) has issued the NOTIFICATION of 31st July, 2019, S.O. 2753(E), in THE GAZETTE OF INDIA : EXTRAORDINARY [PART II—SEC. 3(ii) which states;—“In pursuance of sub-rule(4) of rule 3 of the Citizenship (Registration of Citizens and Issue of National Identity Cards) Rules, 2003, the Central Government hereby decides to prepare and update the Population Register and the field work for house to house enumeration throughout the country except Assam for collection of information relating to all persons who are usually residing within the jurisdiction of Local Registrar shall be undertaken between the 1st day of April, 2020 to 30th September, 2020”.
- If this amendment bill is passed and it becomes an act, and NPR process is taken up based on it with the aim of driving out all migrants, it is apprehended that almost 20 to 30 million people, who are presently staying in India, may lose citizenship. It is already announced by home minister and Assam government that Detention Camps will be constructed soon and all those who have lost citizenship shall be shifted to these Camps once the final NCR list for Assam is announced on 31st If the same process is continued at all India level, more than two crores of people will be pushed inside these Detention Camps. They will be almost like the Concentration Camps built by Nazi government in Germany for the jews from the end of 1930s. This is going to be an enormous and explosive issue, the magnitude of it and the reaction to be organized against it are probably never discussed seriously in an organized form.
- Friends, so, our appeal is that we should wage a consistent struggle against the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill, 2016, and all proposals to carry out determination of citizenship based on it; we should put forward our proposals based on the 1955 Citizenship Act. Understanding the existing communalized situation, we have to adopt a proper democratic stand on this subject. For wide discussion among the democratic forces, we are putting forward the following proposals as the eligibility criteria for citizenship:
- Any person born in India must be eligible for the citizenship of India. This was the case till the 1986 act and is the case in many countries all over the world including in the USA.
- Any person either of whose parents who were citizens of India must be eligible for citizenship. This should also apply if either of the parents were eligible for citizenship though it was never taken.
- Any person who is resident in India for 5 years and who intends to stay for a further five years should be eligible for citizenship. This is the period which is considered for citizenship by registration. Right now naturalization requires 12 years of stay in India. Both can be taken on the same criterion.
- Any refugee who is fleeing from oppression, or whose democratic rights are not being protected in the country from which they are fleeing, should be eligible for some form of right to stay in India leading eventually to citizenship (say giving residential permits to such refugees for 3 years at the end of which they become eligible for citizenship).
1o. We should demand that the Foreigners Tribunals should decide citizenship of all those who have lost it in the NCR of Assam published on 31st August based on this criteria. And the proposed NPR from 1st April to 30th September also should be based on it. We are putting forward these proposals for wide circulation and open discussions. so that a consensus opinion can be arrived at and the campaign for creating public opinion can be launched.
What is urgently required is arriving at a consensus on these proposals as early as possible and arriving at the broadest possible unity of all who agree with the finalized proposals. Then we can strive for creating maximum possible public opinion for it and demand even a referendum, if necessary, on it. Recognizing the seriousness of the issue, let us take it up as a challenge. Please send your responses and suggestions to the email or post addresses given below. For speeding up the process and to involve more sections in this process we suggest state level meeting of the like-minded forces as soon as possible so that we can decentralize our move.
KN Ramachandran, GS, CPI(ML) Red Star.
Central Office: C – 141, Sainik Nagar, New Delhi – 110059