By Vidya Bhushan Rawat
The proposed Citizenship amendment bill is an assault on the Constitution of India which never based our citizenship on our religious or caste identities. On the one side, the government says that it want to welcome people living in Islamic countries but immediately suggest that Muslims are not wanted. It makes a clear assumption as if all the Muslims living in Pakistan, Afghanistan and Bangladesh are happier because they have a ‘Islamic’ government very much like all the ‘Hindus’ in India are happy with the BJP ascendancy in power. It also imply that all the non Muslims in these countries are not happy and have no constitutional guarantee. It is true most of our neighborhood are majoritarian societies like us and there are ‘extra-state’ actors of the majoritarian communities which are beyond the control of the government everywhere including India. We know very well who are such forces in India who dont care for our constitution and have violated it most of the time without being penalised.
What started from North East has now been imposed on the whole country. The issue in Assam and other part of North East was never communal but genuine demographic changes in these states in the post 1971 after the Bangladesh war but that was never due to Muslim population. The Assam agitation even in its height, started by movement like All Assam Student Union and All Assam Gan Sangram Parishad were never communal even during its peak days. The agitation was against illegal infiltrators which any country or state should do when the situation goes out of hand.
The infiltrators were not merely Muslims but majority of them were Bengali Hindus. There is no doubt a fact that minorities in our neighborhood lived a difficult life and laws like Blasphemy laws have been used against minorities to compel them leave their spaces or business.
Indian state have always played dangerous games in dealing with ‘refugees’ and their ‘settlement’ which has resulted in tensions in many places. In the partition era, Bengali Hindus and Sikhs were settled in those places which were adivasi areas resulting in misuse of the curtsy and illegal land grab of the Adivasi land. Take the case of Pilibhit, Lakhimpur Khiri and Shaheed Udham Singh Nagar district in Uttar Pradesh and Uttarakhand which have a huge Sikh population. Frankly speaking a majority of them got settled in the aftermath of partition but slowly the powerful of them used the politeness and simplicity of the Adivasis to grab their land. The result is that there is a complete demography change in these regions and most of the adivasi land has been grabbed the power elite among these Sikhs. Most of the Adivasis like Tharus and Boxas in these Tarai region have become landless in their own land.
The Bengali Namashudra community was initially settled in Dandkarnaya region, which was in Chhattishgarh which neither had their culture nor language. Ultimately all of them went to Bengal and got settled in Sundarvan region or Marichjhaapi. There too, the Bengali Bhadralok refugees got land in prime location of Kolkata or even in Delhi but the Dalits were given land in far away places.
The demography of Tripura changed and the indigenous people became minority in their own region. Can you imagine that Tripura’s political dominance is in the hands of non indigenous people. Look at Jharkhand, an Adivasi state which has now more non Adivasi population and non Adivasi chief minister. Uttarakhand’s non hills district will dominate the politics in future as their population is growing at much faster rate while hills have negative population growth. Moreover, industries and business of the outsiders now dominate the hill district of Uttarakhand. Soon, the non Uttarakhandi’s will dominate the state politics and culture.
Even if you open up India’s space for outsiders, we wish to know as where does Indian state want to ‘settle’ the refugees or those who want to come to India ? Indian government has already assured the North Eastern States that it wont settle them in these regions as their MPs raised concern. Will Himachal and Uttarakhand also raise the same issue ? Will these state take huge chunk of refugees ? If yes, wont there be a demographic change in these states ? Why should we allow this, whether Hindus or Muslim or any one else.
Indian citizenship does not discriminate on the basis of religion. Nowhere in the world is this kind of discrimination. Once you are an Indian citizen, you are Indian. Indian government cant bring all the Hindus from all over the world and take care of them. This is absolutely horrendous. Does the current regime think that these issues did not crop up during the partition. Infact, there were lots of these issues and discussion. Why should India think that all the Hindus world over have fundamental right to settle in India just because it is their ‘fatherland’, as espoused by Savarkar. So, those who lived here for centuries will be hounded out while those who are citizens of other countries are being brought here. Will that not create crisis here ? Do the government think that merely being Hindu is enough ? How does government settle them and how will the local population take them. Will they be settled in Punjab or Haryana or Uttar Pradesh or Delhi.
If the government is suggesting the door open on individual basis then why cant the basis be of relationship with India and not religious. The contents of the current bill is against the spirit of the constitution and has a one point agenda to harass the Muslim citizens of the country. It is sad how the current regime is working on these design which divert our attention from the real issues of economic recession, unemployment, climate change and returning all the time to its favorite time pass of Muslim bashing.
Perhaps the government is not read on minority rights and its international laws. Every modern progressive country respect its minorities and feel proud of them. Many of the non native Hindus have prime ministers and president of various countries and we feel proud of them. India too had that approach and we are immensely proud of those Indian leaders who might not have been brahmanical Hindus but of other faiths and contributed for our country.
It would have been better if India took a lead on minority Rights issues globally but then for that we needed to have moral high ground and our own track record. It is deeply disturbing that rather than introspecting on its fault line, the BJP leaders continue to think that they can get rich dividend in elections due politics of polarisation and creation of an anti Muslim climate all over the country. All political parties must stand together and oppose this bill which divide us deeply. It is not the duty of the Muslims to fight for their rights but all of us, Indian citizens who must stand together and speak up against such discriminatory bill. It look that our role model is not Germany, France or UK but Saudi Arabia, Taliban or other countries which are theocratic states. Fact of the matter is, many of the middle eastern countries are changing and accepting diversity. Hindi has become second language of administration in Abu Dhabi court. Oman recently got a Hindu temple and Indians are welcomed in all these middle eastern countries who give us employment not by seeing our religion but our capacities and qualities. Isnt it ironical, that India which started with strong secular socialist foundations today is turning to those outdated and tainted ideas which have been rejected by countries suffering due to theocracy and discriminatory laws.
We hope the Supreme Court will take cognizance of these bills when become act and stand up for a vibrant and robust democracy and not those ideas which takes us towards brahmanical theocracy, for which India has already paid huge price. It is time that political parties speak up against this bill apart from the legal luminaries who can challenge this in the court of law. Indians need to unite against a power which want to thrive on our divisions and deviate from the real issues so that it can ‘silently’ sale off all our ‘resources’ to its favorite cronies.