Citizenship (Amendment) Act, 2019 was passed by the Parliament of India to provide a path to Indian citizenship for persecuted minorities that fled Pakistan, Bangladesh and Afghanistan who entered India on or before 31st December 2014. The CAA only applies to migrants from those three countries and it doesn’t apply to any Indian citizens.
This is not a new issue. Former Prime Minister, Dr. Manmohan Singh 2003 in Rajya Sabha (Upper house of Parliament) spoke thus about the persecuted minorities entering India from Bangladesh, “After the partition of our country, minorities in countries like Bangladesh have faced persecution, and it is our moral obligation that if circumstances force people – these unfortunate people – to seek refuge in our country, our approach to granting citizenship to these unfortunate persons should be more liberal.”
Tarun Gogoi (Congress leader and Former Chief Minister of Assam) and Mr Prakash Karat (CPM leader) made similar statements in support of granting Indian citizenship to the persecuted minorities from these countries.
The same parties which championed for a similar bill then are now unleashing a false propaganda to mislead people for their own selfish reasons, and fuels fear in Muslims to resort to violence. They have the habit of compulsive hatred towards the ruling party, and especially toward Prime Minister Narendra Modi. They are insulting refugees who were persecuted just because they follow a different religion other than the state religion, Islam in those countries.
Some celebrities also came out on the streets to protest the CAA without even reading it. These people want to be in the limelight to promote their upcoming movies or shows. There is no dearth of India bashing journalists who pride themselves in writing for western news outlets. They write what exactly these news outlets demand, which is to show India in a bad light, and in the process indulge in false propaganda and fake news. They somehow linked nonexistent nationwide NRC (National Register of Citizens) with CAA and whipped up passions among Muslims.
Well-orchestrated propaganda machine is partly successful in changing the narrative. It is very obvious from the media reports that most of the people who participated in the protests have no understanding of the CAA. India is a very young country with two thirds population under 35. Peaceful protests are welcome in any democratic country but violence and destruction of public property cannot be the way to protest. Young generation can decide through ballot box, not through burning buses and pelting stones at police.
Most of these self-declared secularists failed to differentiate between religious persecution and economic migration. CAA is not against any religion, but it is against the religious persecution. Thousands of people have migrated to India illegally for economic reasons. We have to deal with them with compassion, but we still have to apply laws. Countries cannot survive without laws. Like United States, India has to enforce immigration laws.
India has been one of the most generous countries in the world. India has time and again accepted refugees belonging to all religions from many countries. India accepted Indian diaspora from Uganda with open arms, when then president of Uganda Idi Amin ordered Indians to leave the country. India also accepted refugees from Sri Lanka, Tibet and many other places who were persecuted based on their religion or ethnicity.
India has been a go to place for Indian diaspora, whenever they were in trouble. CAA provides an opportunity for persecuted Indian diaspora to become Indian citizens from three countries which have been officially declared as Islamic republics and all minorities are forced to live in pathetic conditions as second class citizens.
Indian American community in the last few days has been organizing pro-CAA rallies all across USA, notably in Austin, TX, Raleigh, NC, Seattle, WA, Columbus, OH, and Houston, TX. Many more similar pro-CAA rallies have been planned in the next few days in New York, Atlanta, Chicago, Bay Area, LA and other places.
The choice is for Indians to choose, debates vs violence, rule of law vs anarchy, facts vs false propaganda, compassion vs hatred.
Krishna Reddy Anugula is the President of OFBJP-USA.