Editorial

Short term gain

By Nagaland Post | Publish Date: 12/6/2019 11:34:44 AM IST

 For the BJP, the pursuit of Citizen(Amendment)Bill as well as the National Register of Citizens(NRC) is granting  Indian citizenship to Hindus, Sikhs, Jains, Buddhists and Christians escaping persecution from neighbouring countries. The Cabinet nod  comes a couple of days after Home Minister Amit Shah virtually set the agenda for the next General Election by declaring that every infiltrator would be identified and expelled by 2024. That’s his deadline for implementing a pan-India National Register of Citizens (NRC), notwithstanding the messy exercise carried out in Assam. However, the NDA government has so far been unable to delink the CAB from the NRC, leading to the perception that both are aimed at religious segregation rather than ensuring that every Indian citizen, irrespective of his or her faith, is accounted for. The primary beneficiaries would be non-Muslim refugees from Pakistan, Bangladesh and Afghanistan, whereas Muslim immigrants such as Myanmar’s Rohingya face the prospect of deportation. The new Citizenship Bill allows them to acquire citizenship even if they entered India using illegal means if the illegal immigrants are non-Muslims from Bangladesh, Pakistan and Afghanistan. The CAB is clearly aimed at fulfilling BJP’s political agenda to facilitate granting of Indian citizenship to non-Muslims especially Bengali speaking Hindus from Bangladesh for votes and targeting Muslims from Bangladesh. In order to meet that objective, the CAB will amend the Citizenship Act of 1955 by introducing exceptional provisions for acquiring citizenship for non-Muslim immigrants from Bangladesh, Pakistan and Afghanistan. The existing Citizenship Act 1955 offers a foreigner living in India to apply for citizenship provided the person meets some conditions, including that he/she has stayed in India or served the government for 12 months immediately preceding the application and must have stayed for 11 of the preceding 14 years in India. The new Citizenship Bill reduces this number to six years for non-Muslim foreigners from Bangladesh, Pakistan and Afghanistan. A legislation under which nationality will be granted on the basis of religion is fraught with communal complications. To detect and deport every illegal immigrant-several estimates peg the total number at over 100 million-in just five years(2024) will require miraculous effort by the central and state governments. The enormity of the task is compounded by the fact that there is no ready framework to follow.  A witch-hunt targeting a particular community and will fly in the face of the NDA government’s lofty slogan ‘Sabka saath, sabka vikas’. An exclusionist policy is not only against Indian tradition but also at variance with the secular values enshrined in the Constitution. India is the birth place of major religions such as Hinduism, Buddhism, Sikhism, and Jainism and also the home of many indigenous Christians, Parsis and Muslims. The BJP should also take into serious consideration the ramifications of its tunnel vision about citizenship. This will also create more problems especially in the north east. Political parties in the north east are opposed to the CAB while even the BJP has taken a guarded stand  If the CAB seeks to grant citizenship to persecuted illegal (non-Muslim) immigrant, then  the same yardstick ought to be applied to ten lakh  Sri Lankan Tamils in Tamil Nadu. The CAB has raised serious concerns of replication of the Tripura experience where several lakh illegal Hindu immigrants from Bangladesh were granted citizenship and today have reduced the indigenous Twipuris to a minority. Like other poll promises made by the BJP, the CAB appears to be another rhetoric that is unrealistic and impractical. 

 

Launched on December 3,1990. Nagaland Post is the first and highest circulated newspaper of Nagaland state. Nagaland Post is also the first newspaper in Nagaland to be published in multi-colour.

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