CAA: A right to a dignified life of persecuted religious minorities

Spread the love

We should agree that emergence of a new law like CAA in a country like India which is known for its unity in diversity, would certainly face a challenge to get implemented. In the era of communication and technology propaganda and misinformation have become instrumental in creating fault lines among the communities to meet vested interests of adversaries.

When the CAA was perceived during 2019 by the general public, they become apprehensive over the outcomes of the act which led to a feeling of insecurity among some religious minorities. These apprehensions were exploited by some of the adversaries by utilising it to meet their political agendas.

The Act says the persecuted religious minorities of six communities Hindus, Sikhs, Buddhists, Jains, Parsis, and Christians from India’s three neighbours – Pakistan, Bangladesh and Afghanistan to become citizens of India if they entered India on or before December 31, 2014, after residing in India for five years, vide Amendment 2 of the Citizenship Act, 1955. The CAA does not disturb the status quo of any Indian citizen. It simply gives legitimacy to persecuted religious minorities who are already residing or have been forced to seek refuge in India and were compelled to flee from their “home” countries after facing religious persecution. Muslims are not a minority in Pakistan, Bangladesh or Afghanistan; hence Muslims have been excluded from CAA.
CAA does not violate Article 14 of the Indian Constitution. In any case, all rights including those under Article 14 are not absolute but subject to “reasonable
restrictions” pertaining to “public order, morality and health”. The legislation
applies to those who were “forced or compelled to seek shelter in India due to
persecution on the ground of religion”. The requirement to stay in India for those belonging to any of these 6 religions for at least 11 years before applying for Indian citizenship has been reduced to five years. Indian citizenship, under present law, is given either to those born in India or if they have resided in the country for a minimum of 11 years.

The Act does not apply to tribal areas of Tripura, Mizoram, Assam and Meghalaya because of being included in the Sixth Schedule of the Constitution. Also, areas that fall under the Inner Limit notified under the Bengal Eastern Frontier Regulation, 1873, will also be outside the Act’s purview. This keeps almost entire Arunachal Pradesh, Mizoram, Manipur and Nagaland out of the ambit of the Act. CAA does not cancel the naturalisation laws. Therefore, any person including the Muslim migrants from any foreign country, seeking to be an Indian citizen, can apply for the same under the existing laws. This Act does not
prevent any Muslim, who is persecuted in those three Islamic countries for practicing their version of Islam, from applying for Indian citizenship under the existing laws.

Thus, there is a need among Muslim community that they should not sway away by rumours/fake news spread by divisive forces/elements and not indulge in any kind of violence.

Dr. Neerja A Gupta. Vice Chancellor, Gujarat University

You May Also Like

More From Author

+ There are no comments

Add yours