Slamming the highly contentious and sectarian Citizenship (Amendment) Bill or CAB, the Rights and Risks Analysis Group (RRAG) has said the bill which was approved by the Union Cabinet, will be an instrument to disenfranchise and torture millions of documentless Indians and fool the people of northeast India.
“The exemption of the Inner Line Permit holding states and autonomous council administered areas in the re-drafted CAB are not only manifestly unconstitutional but impractical. How would the autonomous district councils under the 6th Schedule (of the Constitution) areas in Tripura, Assam and Meghalaya without Inner Line regulation benefit from the exemption. This is nothing but an instrument to fool the tribals of the northeast who have been protesting against the CAB,” the rights body’s Director Suhas Chakma said in a statement.
He said that the CAB exposes serious lack of understanding of the Union Government and the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party leaders on the nature of the problems arising out of the National Register of Citizens (NRC) in Assam.
“The Bhojpuris, Nepalis, Assamese and many other Indian citizens of Assam excluded from the NRC cannot claim to be persecuted non-Muslim minorities from Bangladesh, Pakistan and Afghanistan. They shall forever remain stateless.”
Chakma said India at present processes about 100 citizenship applications per year and therefore, Hindu refugees from Pakistan settled in Rajasthan could not be granted citizenship despite no political opposition.
He said that millions of non-Muslim Indians, especially Bengali speaking Hindus, would be made stateless first, and thereafter, made to wait till their death for processing of their citizenship applications, and will remain stateless meantime.
According to Chakma, the Muslims who are excluded from the CAB would be declared as illegal immigrants though Bangladesh government shall never accept their deportation.
“Ultimately, Indians who do not possess the documents prior to the cut off date for the proposed NRC shall suffer torture, and further pauperisation,” he added.
Leaders of Indigenous Peoples Front of Tripura, an ally of the ruling BJP and the Indigenous Nationalist Party of Tripura said that they would continue to protest the amended CAB and would soon announce their future course of action in this regard.
The Citizenship (Amendment) Bill, 2019, provides Indian citizenship to Hindus, Jains, Christians, Sikhs, Buddhists and Parsis from Bangladesh, Pakistan and Afghanistan after seven years of residence in India instead of 12 years, which is the current norm, even if they do not possess any document. The legislation was passed by Lok Sabha during its winter session on January 8 but could not be cleared by the upper house.
The bill is set to clear Lok Sabha easily. However, in Rajya Sabha, the government may find it challenging to pass the legislation. Several parties like the Congress, Trinamool Congress, Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam, Samajwadi Party, Rashtriya Janata Dal, and Left parties have opposed the bill.
(With inputs from IANS)