All About Citizenship Amendment Act

All about Citizenship amendment act

According to the Bill, members of the Hindu, Christian, Sikh, Buddhist and Zoroastrian communities who have come from Pakistan, Afghanistan, and Bangladesh till December 31, 2014 and facing religious persecution there will not be treated as illegal immigrants but given Indian citizenship. It also relaxes the provisions for "Citizenship by naturalisation". The law reduces duration of residency from existing 11 years to just five years for people belonging to six religions and three countries.

In 2015 the government made changes to the passport and foreigner’s acts to allow non-Muslim refugees from these countries to stay back in India even if they entered the country without valid papers. CAA is an extension to the aforementioned changes.

So, it can be said that in 2015, the government made changes so that non muslim refugees can enter India and stay back in the country even if they do not have valid documents. And through CAA, the government has relaxed provisions in form of reduction of duration of residency from existing 11 years to just 5 years to those people (of select six communities) who have been living as refugees  in India without proper documents.

 The Catch

However, the omission/ exclusion of certain communities and neighbouring countries has raised several questions over its moral rationale and constitutional validity. The logic extended to justify the selection of the three neighbouring countries is that these are Islamic republics, or have Islam as a state religion and, therefore, the aforementioned six communities face the threat of religious persecution. However, by this logic, immigrants from Sri Lanka and Bhutan should also have been covered as these two countries too have a state religion, that is Buddhism. A large number of Tamil (Hindus as well as Muslims) immigrants from Sri Lanka are living in refugee camps in India, and there have been instances of minority communities being targeted by majoritarian forces in Sri Lanka. Furthermore, in a typically ahistorical and prejudiced manner, there is a flat refusal to acknowledge the persecution of Muslim minority sects like Ahmadiyyas and Hazaras in Pakistan and Afghanistan, respectively, as is the case with Rohingyas in Myanmar.

Why are people protesting against CAA?

There are two kinds of protests that are taking place across India right now, against the Act. In the northeast, the protest is against the Act's implementation in their areas. Most of them fear that if implemented, the Act will cause a rush of immigrants that may alter their demographic and linguistic uniqueness.

In the rest of India, like in Kerala, West Bengal and in Delhi, people are protesting against the exclusion of Muslims, alleging it to be against the ethos of the Constitution. Thus, underlining that the secular nature of our constitution is under threat. Further saying that Article 14 (Right to Equality) and Article 15 (Prohibition of Discrimination) of our Constitution are being violated.

The Act does not apply to the whole country

CAB won't apply to areas under the sixth schedule of the Constitution – which deals with autonomous tribal-dominated regions in Assam, Meghalaya, Tripura and Mizoram. The bill will also not apply to states that have the inner-line permit regime (Arunachal Pradesh, Nagaland and Mizoram).

Why is Assam boiling against the heat of CAA?

While many North Eastern states have been exempted under this Act, CAB covers a large part of Assam. The protests stem from the fear that illegal Bengali Hindu migrants from Bangladesh, if regularised under CAB, will threaten cultural and linguistic identities of the state.

Are National Population Register and CAA related?

Apparently, NPR and CAA are unrelated. NPR or NRC (in Assam) is related to exclusion of illegal migrants and CAA is related to welcoming the select persecuted communities.