On December 11, 2019, the country witnessed the greatest controversy of the year when the Parliament of India passed the Citizenship Amendment Bill or CAB.
The act grants Indian citizenship to Hindu, Sikh, Buddhist, Parsi, Jain, and Christian religious minorities that had escaped the persecution from Pakistan, Bangladesh, and Afghanistan before 31st December 2014.
However, the bill deprived the Muslims of the country of any such eligibility. As a result, it caused a huge uproar among people and violent protests erupted in several parts of the country, which still continues.
As the CAA and the NRC earned the reputation of becoming one of the greatest political controversies of all time, let us take a look at a couple of things and find out how it will impact us.
The Citizenship Act, 1955
Part II of the Constitution of India (Articles 5 to 11) governs the conferment of Indian citizenship to a person. All the people that were Indian residents when the Constitution was commenced were citizens of India, and so was a person born in India.
This matter was legislated by The Citizenship Act, 1955, which has been amended six times by the Citizenship (Amendment) Acts of 1986, 1992, 2003, 2005, 2015 and 2019.
The 2003 amendments restricted citizenship to a person whose parent(s) were illegal immigrants. This amendment also mandated the Government of India to construct a National Register of Citizens.
The 2019 amendment paved the path to Indian citizenship for selected minorities of India’s Muslim-majority neighboring countries, namely Afghanistan, Bangladesh, and Pakistan.
What Really Is NRC?
With the passing of the CAA by both the houses of the Parliament, immediate speculations followed about the National Register Of Citizens, or, NRC.
The NRC first rose to prominence in the northeastern state of Assam, but the registry fuelled much panic and fear in the state as well as the nation.
NRC happens to be an official record of those who are legal citizens of India. It contains information on the individuals who qualify as citizens of India, as per the Citizenship Act, 1955.
In 2013, Assam Public Works, along with Assam Sanmilita Mahasangha and Ors, filed a written petition to the Supreme Court of India, demanding the elimination of the names of illegal migrants from the voter lists in Assam.
In 2014, the SC ordered the updation of the NRC in all parts of Assam, in accordance with the Citizenship Act, 1955, and Citizenship Rules, 2003.
The process was officially started in 2015, and the final updated list was released on August 31, with over 1.9 million people failing to make it to the final NRC list.
Such a database was only maintained for the state of Assam, for the time being. However, on November 20, Home Minister Amit Shah declared during a parliamentary session that it would be extended to the rest of the country as well.
This invited much outrage from the country.
The Link Between NRC & CAA.
The proposed NRC is supposed to target mainly the illegal immigrants of India. However, the bill states that Hindus, Sikhs, Parsis, Christians, Jains, and Buddhists, hailing from Bangladesh, Pakistan, and Afghanistan will not be affected, if they claim that they have fled the religious persecution and arrived in India.
This essentially means that any illegal immigrants coming from countries other than these three will be affected. Moreover, many also feared that the Indian Muslims could also be deemed illegal immigrants if they fail to present sound and adequate proof of citizenship, as they have not been included in the Citizenship Amendment Act.
What Government Say’s?
The government has out-and-out denied the use of the CAA for the updation of the NRC. Amit Shah said that the NRC in Assam was not a religion-based exercise.
He stated, “Whoever is not eligible to be included in the NRC will be sent out of the country.”
When asked about his declaration that the government was going to implement the NRC across India, Shah said that the “bonafide Indian citizens” should not have any fear.
He went on to say “No Indian will be sent out of the country. I want to tell the minorities that special facility will be made for them and also other people. But I also want to ask should we keep our borders open for illegal immigrants?”
He further adds “Whenever the NRC will come, no person of the minority community will face injustice but no infiltrator will be spared.”
Repercussions Of Amendments
Mass scale protests and violence erupted in almost all parts of the country; right after Parliament passed the CAB. People broke out on the streets of Assam and the movement only got bigger with the spontaneous participation of students.
The state of West Bengal exploded over the CAB-NRC issues, while, on the other hand, vandalism took place in Jamia Milia University in the capital city of New Delhi.
States of Jharkhand, Kerala, and Hyderabad also saw much violence, anger, and objections. Protests have been going on in all major cities across the country.
‘Of the people, by the people, for the people’-citizens define a democracy. A qualified citizen is one who, instead of getting swayed by the public opinion or the authority, makes himself aware of the facts and arrives at a judgment independently.
Tell us in the comment section below What’s ‘your’ opinion on it?
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