By: Mokter Hossain Mondal*
There is news that went rife that the Central government has issued an official notification based on the 1955 and 2009 citizenship Act inviting the non-Muslim people who had come from the neighboring countries to India to apply for Indian citizenship.
As per the media report, "The Centre on Friday invited non-Muslims like Hindus, Sikhs, Jains, and Buddhists belonging to Pakistan, Bangladesh, and Afghanistan and residing in 13 districts in Gujarat, Rajasthan, Chhattisgarh, Haryana and Punjab to apply for Indian citizenship...
The report further states that according to the CAA, Indian citizenship will be given to non-Muslim persecuted minorities from Bangladesh, Pakistan, and Afghanistan -- Hindu, Sikh, Jain, Buddhist, Parsi and Christian -- who had come to India till December 31, 2014.
However, the question is: Will the Central government issue any such notification? Refer to the Citizenship Act of 1955; there is not any provision that allows citizenship only to non-Muslims. Then because of which Act the government is issuing such notification? This will be a violation of the citizenship law.
If there was any provision of granting citizenship to the non-Muslims under the citizenship Act of 1955 and 2009, why the government has passed the 2019 Citizenship Amendment Act that allows citizenship to the non-Muslims - Hindu, Buddhist, Jain, Christian, Sikh people coming from neighboring Bangladesh, Pakistan, and Afghanistan? If there was already existing law, then why did the govt. enact a new one? If the Persecuted minority, Hindu immigrants were eligible to obtain citizenship under the 1955 Citizenship Act previously then why did Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Home Minister Amit Shah enact the divisive CAA? Actually, BJP is propelling the media to peddle this false narrative to cover up its gigantic failure to handle the Covid pandemic.
As per the Citizenship Act, 1955, any person who is born on Indian soil can become a citizen.
In 1986, the Congress government has brought a Citizenship act that curtailed this law and stated that in order to become an Indian citizen any of the parents has to be an Indian. Then in 2003 BJP, government enacted a citizenship law, which states that both of the parents have to be Indian then the person can be granted Indian citizenship.
In the same year, BJP has brought the NRC act. Then the opposition parties have extended their support. After that when Congress came back to power defeating the BJP it started doing NPR. From that day on successive governments, opposition parties, various organizations maintained blanket silence over the issue. Nevertheless, things changed in a drastic manner when BJP passed the CAA based on religion in both houses of the parliaments. The citizens came out on the streets and raged in protests.
Those political parties who have been supporting the NRC and NPR of 2003 also took a U-turn in their stand and overnight started opposing the law after seeing the mass agitation. Scores of lawsuits have been lodged in the Supreme Court. After so many arrests to quell, the mass protests the government yet to revise the CAA law. Now in this testing time of the Covid pandemic misinformation are being disseminated. In reality, the Central govt. and its lap-dog media are doing it on purpose to divert people's attention. I repeat it again; there is no provision under the Citizenship Act of 1955, which allows citizenship to people based on their religious identity. As long as the law is concerned, such an issue of notification inviting only non-Muslims to apply for citizenship under the 1955 citizenship act will not be a just and upright move.
We call upon the government to revoke the 2003 NRC rules and the divisive Citizenship Amendment Act, 2019 forthwith. We further call upon the government to implement the Citizenship Act of 1955 where citizenship is a birthright.
*An Indian writer
**Opinions expressed in this article are the author's own and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of “al-Mujtama” magazine.