PM Modi tried to calm down and clear all the doubts of protestors during Sunday Rally in RamLeela Maidan, New Delhi on Citizenship (Amendment) Act (CAA) which excludes Muslims, but the stand of people against it still seems firm. GOI has to understand that mere words aren’t going to change anything in the nation, and they must look for another way to undo the incalculable harm and fear set in citizen’s minds by this law. The Government now has to hear the call for meaningful changes that would dispel fears gripping the country, especially among minorities, to welcome the peace back in the nation.
The objective stated by Government is the fast-tracking of applications from minorities from three Muslim-majority neighbouring countries for citizenship by naturalization. Can’t this be achieved without violating the Constitution or its secular ideals as questioned by protestors? Why only a particular community is excluded? Is there any proof that a person belonging to the Mulsim community in those specific nations isn’t being persecuted? Again a plethora of questions but without solutions.
Few suggestions by the protestors are like; first to amend the Act again, even by an ordinance, to drop its religion-specific wording, and make it explicit that the benefit would be open to all undocumented migrants who can prove persecution in their home countries. Muslims and atheists have been persecuted in these and other countries by authorities and dominant sections as well. So first amended the bill then move ahead with implementation, it is the primary solution given by protestors.
Regarding others like Sri Lankan Refugees, the legal bar on their applying for citizenship stands out. An amendment of 2004 in the citizenship law introduced a clause that ‘illegal migrants’ will not be eligible to apply for citizenship in any case. By ‘‘illegal migrants’ GOI means people who arrived without valid travel documents including refugees. A direct provision of the present CAA is to remove this ‘illegal’ tag from non-Muslim minorities from Bangladesh, Afghanistan, and Pakistan.
Dropping the reference to ‘illegal migrants’ will automatically enable any refugee to apply for citizenship, subject to the residential requirement and other underlying conditions. That’s why a general enabling provision to allow a relaxation of the minimum residency requirement will serve the purpose of considering citizenship to the persecuted people.
Finally, India should make a refugee law wherein the right to live a life without fear or confinement can be protected and executed as well. UNHCR can play a crucial role here by working with them officially by making voluntary repatriation, and without rendering long-term refugees ineligible for applying for citizenship. The Government needs to end the process once the National Population Register is updated so that more chaos and riots in the future can be stopped. It must give up the notion of a citizenship register or NRC.
These are some of the suggestions of people protesting against Muslim community exclusion from CAA. rest what other communities have to say in this is another long page talk and discussion. The question which arises now –where is the void? Is this the lack of responsibility of the Government or citizens have become knowledgeable now?