The Rajya Sabha passed the Citizenship Amendment Bill 2019 on 11th December, after which it was quickly sent for President’s approval. The final voting tally in upper house stood at a comfortable 125 in favour versus 105 votes going against the bill. Though the Govt has passed the test in the parliament, it still has to pass the test of the public. The last few days have seen violent protests in various parts of the country, beginning from Bengal where trains were torched and railway properties damaged by angry mobs. Tense situation was expected in the North East & Bengal where maximum effects of the new Act will be seen, but hardly anybody expected that the National capital will be engulfed in mob violence. Violent protests erupted in the Jamia Nagar locality of the capital on Saturday, wherein public vehicles were torched into flames. The police in retaliation entered the Jamia Milia Islamia University and lathi-charged the mob of students. Videos showing the police action were streamed on Twitter and the matter soon became political with AAP & BJP blaming each other for the violence. I guess all of us have seen the various video bytes of the violence; hence I will avoid posting them here.
There are two aspects of the ensuing opposition to the CAB 2019, which though has become an Act now. One is the seemingly genuine protests of the people of the North East, particularly Assam. Assam & the North East in general have a peculiar demographic order with distinct tribes and sub cultures. The Assamese people are wary that the CAA 2019 act will dilute their demography with Bangladeshi Hindus and are therefore in opposition of the new Act. We should remember that there was a large influx of Hindus from Bangladesh during its creation in the 1970s. The number of Bangladeshi Hindus is estimated to vary between eight to twenty Lakhs. These Hindus will now be eligible for citizenship under the new Act, which is bound to change the demographics in Assam or North East. But the Govt pacified the people of Assam by meeting the representatives of the region and tried to clear the doubts. The Govt has specified the No-Go areas or the ones under the Inner Line Permit where the Bangladeshi Hindus won’t be settled and the sanctity of the culture of North Eastern states will be maintained. The regularised Hindus will only be settled in the areas outside the purview of ILP. We should keep in mind that the protests in the North Eastern regions have subsided after the clarifications given by the Govt.
The protests in West Bengal & other parts of India however, are different in character. The violence seen in West Bengal is prominent in the Northern belt which is highly affected by refugee influx. The incidents cannot be exactly called communal riots, as till now no incidents of mobs attacking Hindus have surfaced. The incidents are limited to destruction of public property which is an expression of anger, not communal hatred. Secondly, the violent protests seen in universities like Jamia, AMU are calling for boycott of the Govt and the CAA law, which has been made through a due democratic process. This indicates the protests are quite influenced by Leftist ideology rather than Islam alone. There were reports in media that Congress student wing NSUI had joined Jamia protests, and recently Congress leader Priyanka Gandhi also expressed support to the protests.
The above events hint towards a presence of Left behind a movement being masked as an Islamic movement. However, it does not mean that radical Islamic elements are not present in these protests. If we see the global scenario Ultra Left is aligned with Islam. In fact it seems to be using Islam as the proverbial tip of the spear. Whether it is Jeremy Corbyn in Britain or Bernie Sanders in USA, Leftists are using Islam as a growth vector. Same story seems to be repeating in India. The strategic alignment of Left with Islam is a separate topic of analysis; hence it is better to cut it out here.
Another myth being spread about the CAA 2019 is that it is against Indian Muslims. I believe there cannot be a greater lie in connecting CAA to Muslims of India. The act doesn’t say anything about citizenship of Indian Muslims, nor does it applies to them. Then why the Indian Muslims should be worried at all!!! The real worry is that the Bangladeshi Muslims & Rohingyas living illegally in our country are not being given equal opportunity to settle in India as the six Non Muslim religious sects specified in the Act. What can be a more bigoted argument than saying that either India should accept both Muslim & Non Muslim communities of the neighbourhood or should not accept any of them in totality? This is a false equivalence and is reminiscent of the argument made on terrorism. From “Terror has No Religion “to “All Religions have Terrorists”, the equivalence saw a great fall. Attempt is being made to create a similar false equivalence. We should not fall for such propaganda. It is the Non Muslim communities in our neighbourhood who are most persecuted and it is our duty to give them shelter. There is no need to fall for All or None logic. The Act caters to the neediest people and is limited in scope. Indian Muslims have nothing to be afraid of none of their rights are being taken. As far as Rohingyas or Bangladeshi Muslims are concerned, if people of these communities are identified by the state or sent back why the Indian Muslims should be worried or rise in revolt. Unless, they are more worried about the Brotherhood than national integrity, which should then be a cause of concern for everyone.
#BreakingTheParadigms. Indians should come out of the preset paradigms such as minority means Muslims, or secularism means all religions or none at all. These are manufactured narratives and have outlived their purpose. It is time to wake up to realities and accept the change. Legislations are made or modified according to changing socio economic/ strategic dynamics. What was not done before doesn’t mean won’t be done ever. An idea just because it doesn’t suit the narrative doesn’t become unconstitutional by default. The Bill was passed in a democratic manner and has the full backing of the constitution. At the same time, for the law abiding citizens, there is no need to be too scared of these protests. It is a wave that cannot be sustained indefinitely. It will eventually subside. Till then those who choose to fight on social media can fight there, however, ones who chose the path of arson, destruction and chaos should get the punishment prescribed in the constitution. The same constitution they claim to be fighting for.