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Sunday, February 25, 2024

Hindering the Path of Non-Muslim Refugees to India


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Almost two years after the country saw protests and riots in the National Capital over CAA and NRC, a move of the Government is again facing the heat of many. The Centre on 28th May 2021 invited the non-Muslim refugees from Pakistan, Bangladesh, and Afghanistan living in 29 districts of mostly the Border States for citizenship. The Ministry of Home Affairs issued a notification under the Citizenship Act, 1955 and 2009 Rules to grant citizenship to the Hindus, Christians, Sikhs, Jains, Parsis, and Buddhists with immediate implementation.


However, immediately after a few days of this move, the Indian Union Muslim League (IUML) moved to the Supreme Court filing a PIL against this move of the Government. The same body, along with many activists had also opposed the Citizenship Amendment Act and the National Register of Citizens two years back. The reasons cited ranged from the violation of the Constitution to these being a precursor of changing India into a ‘Hindu Rashtra’.

Hindering the Path of Non-Muslim Refugees to India -
Pic Credit- Opindia.com

Article 14 of the Indian Constitution is the very first reason why many oppose any step of the Government to provide refuge. The article says that ‘The State shall not deny to any person equality before the law or the equal protection of the laws within the territory of India, on grounds of religion, race, caste, sex or place of birth’. Here this provision applies to both the Indian citizen and a foreigner is true. However, what is not said out loud is that this article doesn’t allow the state to treat ‘unequal as ‘equals’. That is to say that- the article talks about infusing equality between two groups being under equal circumstances. Thus, knowing the fact that the minorities in those countries have been persecuted despite various arrangements and commitments like the Nehru-Liaqat Pact, using Article 14 logic is just as superficial as saying that these Acts can turn India into a ‘Hindu-Rashtra’.

One follows up this Constitutional argument with the fact that even Muslims in the mentioned countries have been persecuted for years. They highlight Article 2 of the Pakistani Constitution that probably rejects recognizing the Ahmadiyas as Muslims. The mosques of these Ahmadiyas, Shias, etc are demolished, they are killed and are even asked to convert to the Sunni sect at times.

Nevertheless, while implementing a law, the state doesn’t take a generalist stand like providing citizenship to anyone who is persecuted. Keeping all the emotions aside, the Government must prioritize the security of the citizens here first. Thus, making the borders porous enough to allow citizenship to anyone in need might also become a way for terrorists and militants to get in. Especially, when we know the orthodox Islamic identity of these nations, provision to provide refuge to all irrespective of their religion would endanger the safety and security of India. Thus, the government must consider each community on case to case basis when it comes to dealing with the people across borders as India’s secularism and inclusivity indeed is a foreign concept for the people subscribing to Islamic beliefs in those Islamic nations. This is an important reason why while Indian Muslims are welcome anywhere around the world, the people from the same religion from many Islamic nations have regulated entry in many western countries.

Also, the reasons for the attack on non-Muslim minorities and different sections of Muslims in those countries are completely different. While the latter is facing sectarian violence and therefore struggling to get recognized as the believers of Islam, the former is facing a state of statelessness. They are not fighting to be recognized as Muslims but trying to survive being in a country that doesn’t even have proper ‘law of the land’ for them and their survival. As these countries are officially declared Islamic nations subscribing to Sharia on many issues of law and order, the ones who don’t abide by the Quran and the Hadees don’t even have the option to struggle. Their Constitution is not for them, the laws are not for them and ultimately those countries are not for them. India is providing citizenship to those who have been rendered stateless due to religious orthodoxy rather than those who are involved in sectarian conflicts anywhere around the world and equalizing both with a single word ‘persecution’ is grossly incorrect and unjust.

An IB report had suggested that the minorities that are eligible for citizenship under the CAA are about 31000 in number. Apart from that, out of the CAA too, the granting of citizenship like that on this Friday won’t benefit people in lakhs. Also, most of these people who seek citizenship are Dalits. Thus, irony stands firm when Dalit-right activists speak against the move.

As for the Indian Muslims who are presumptuous about the CAA and NRC together endangering their citizenship, they must accept the vital fact that NRC isn’t even existent across the nation. The one conducted in Assam was ordered by the Supreme Court that tended to follow the Assam Accord of 1985. The system, be the judiciary or the executive isn’t blind to the mismanagement and confusion that was caused due to the lack of efficient government machinery. Thus, if at all NRC comes for the whole nation, it would be re-framed at different levels of governance. One could protest after seeing what form is being implemented in the future. Taking onto roads and putting the whole capital under the shadow of violence and riots just based on assumptions isn’t what our fundamental duties expect from us. Let us honor Article IV-A as much as we hold Article III dear. Especially when their co-existence is shown under threat by many forces within and without the territory of our nation. 

[author title=”Shobhna Dheemati” image=”http://localhost/gc2/wp-content/uploads/2021/01/unnamed-7.jpg”]Journalist, Goa Chronicle

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