Shady and superfluous cajoling of European lawmakers, by outgoing British Member of European Parliament Shaffaq Mohammad to consequence these neutral unsuspecting members, to support a Resolution on CAA against India on the penultimate day before Brexit, fell flat on its face.
European lawmakers agreed to delay the voting to get a direct perspective from about the CAA from External Affairs Minister S. Jaishankar who is scheduled to visit Brussels to prepare the ground for PM Modi’s visit in mid-March.
It was evident that the lawmakers were not aware of the intricate tenets and backdrop of the CAA, and were simply being hounded by Pakistan backed and compensated lobby.
What the resolution Says
The resolution takes note of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights statement last month, which described the CAA as “fundamentally discriminatory in nature”, and also of other UN as well as the European Union (EU) guidelines on human rights, as it calls on the Indian government to “repeal the discriminatory amendments”. “While the CAA’s stated goal of protecting persecuted groups is welcome, an effective national asylum and refugee policy should be just and holistic in nature and apply to all those in need,” it notes, describing the CAA as “discriminatory in nature and dangerously divisive”.
There is also a reference to the Indian government’s “push” for a nationwide citizenship verification process, the National Register of Citizens (NRC), which it says “aims to strip Muslims of their citizenship rights while protecting those of Hindus and other non-Muslims“.
Latter aspect, regarding NRC has been found to be irrelevant by the EU senate already.
Backdrop to CAA Issue
The Indian constitution doesn’t prescribe a permanent provision relating to citizenship in India. It simply describes categories of persons who are deemed to be citizens of India on the day the Indian constitution was promulgated on January 26, 1950, and leaves citizenship to be regulated by-laws made by the Indian parliament.
Citizenship Act, 1955?
The Act provides for acquisition of Indian citizenship in the following ways:
(a) Citizenship by birth: Anyone born in India on or after January 1, 1950, would be deemed a citizen by birth. This limit was further amended to include those born between January 1, 1950, and July 1, 1987. “Illegal migrant” means a foreigner who has entered India: without a valid passport or travel documents; or with a valid passport or travel documents but remained in the country beyond the permitted period of time.
(b) Citizenship by descent: A person born outside India shall be deemed to be a citizen of India if either of the person’s parents was a citizen of India at the time of his/her birth provided that the birth is registered within one year of its occurrence or commencement of the Act, whichever is later, at the Indian consulate.
(c) Citizenship by registration: A person may be registered as a citizen of India if the person is married to a citizen of India or has been a resident of India for five years immediately before making an application for registration.
(d) Citizenship by naturalization: A person is granted a certificate of naturalization if the person is not an illegal migrant and has resided in India for 12 months before making an application to seek the certificate. Of the 14 years preceding this 12-months duration, the person must have stayed in India for 11 years.
(e) Citizenship by incorporation of territory: If any new territory becomes a part of India, the government of India shall specify the persons of the territory to be citizens of India.
If the Government of India finds that an applicant is a person who has rendered distinguished service to the cause of science, philosophy, art, literature, world peace or human progress generally, it may waive all or any conditions specified to attain Indian citizenship.
As rallied by Indian Foreign Department
Does this mean that Muslims from Pakistan, Bangladesh, and Afghanistan are denied /can never get Indian citizenship?
No, the present legal process of acquiring Indian citizenship by any foreigner of any category through Naturalization (Section 6 of the Citizenship Act) or through Registration (Section 5 of the Act) stays operational. The CAA does not amend or alter it in any manner whatsoever. Hundreds of Muslims migrating from these three countries have been granted Indian citizenship during the last few years. If found eligible, all such future migrants shall also get Indian citizenship, irrespective of their numbers or religion. In 2014, after the settlement of Indo-Bangladesh boundary issues, 14,864 Bangladeshi citizens were given Indian Citizenship when their enclaves were incorporated into the territory of India. Thousands of these foreigners were Muslims.
Will illegal Muslim immigrants from these three countries be deported under the CAA?
No, the CAA has absolutely nothing to do with the deportation of any foreigner from India. The deportation process of any foreigner irrespective of his religion or country is implemented as per the mandate of the Foreigners Act, 1946 and/or The Passport (Entry into India) Act, 1920 of India.
Can Hindus , Sikhs, Christians and Buddhists facing persecution on grounds of religion in countries other than these 3 countries apply under the CAA?
No, they will have to apply through the usual process to get Indian Citizenship just like any other foreigner for either registration or naturalization as a citizen of India. They would get no preference under The Citizenship Act, 1955, even after the CAA.
The law will not be extended to Rohingya Muslims persecuted in Myanmar; Shia and Ahmadiyya Muslims in Pakistan, Hazaras, Tajiks and Uzbeks in Afghanistan, Tamils in Sri Lanka; and atheists in Bangladesh. Hence reference to religion has not even been independent and explicit. Therefore the European Lawmakers have agreed. in principle, that there is no denial of citizenship to Muslims.
Two Indian-origin MEPs, Dinesh Dhamija and Neena Gill, were among a host of members who spoke up in India’s favour to point out elements of “disinformation” around the CAA and the NRC within the parliamentary motion.
Thierry Mariani, a French MEP, alluded to the “hand of Pakistan” in the motion being tabled, while others condemned it as meddling in another country’s internal affairs.
“The only lobby that has won today is that of truth, common sense and respect,” countered ECR’s Polish MEP Ryszard Czarnecki.
It has been established on numerous platforms and occasions internationally, that due to discourse over the last fifty years in Pakistan, Bangladesh and Afghanistan, the Non-Muslims have faced grave persecution. Numbers and statistics support that.
Bedrock of the above UN resolution ” should be just and holistic in nature and apply to all those in need”, has been shown to be exactly followed by the CAA and found vindicated by the EU lawmakers.
While the EU gives another chance to listen to arguments from both sides, till March, as a procedure. However, the drift is clearly in favour of facts, which has been India’s stand. Also, statements acknowledge that the CAA is an internal matter of India.
31 Jan 20/Friday Written By: Fayaz