The Narendra Modi government, full of pride over its majority in Parliament, got the Citizenship Amendment Bill 2019 passed while turning a blind eye to the nationwide protests. The amended Citizenship Act is an injustice not only against the Muslim community, but also Dalit, Tribal (Adivasi), Vanvasi, Tamil, Gorkha and atheist.
This has to be one of the world’s greatest discriminatory law based on religion. The citizenship law is against the Indian Constitution and what it means to be an Indian. To better understand its discriminatory feature, the Citizenship Amendment Act has to be seen in tandem with the National Register of Citizens (NRC), because both complement each other and stand against the preamble of the Indian Constitution.
The one who will be really affected by the CAA and the NRC will be India’s Bahujan community — the natives of this land who include Dalits, Tribals, Muslims and other minorities. We are against the CAA because it is the biggest tool thus far to eliminate the political and social power of Bahujans.
Setting India on fire
The Modi government, intoxicated by its power of majority, may have managed to get the bill passed in both Houses of Parliament, but if the members voting there had really been representing all the citizens of India, then the country would not have been on fire like it is today. At the Jamia Millia Islamia University, the police transgressed all limits of autocracy by carrying out the brutal baton charge against hapless students. Then, it tried to completely crush the movement at the Aligarh Muslim University. But today, this movement has spread to university campuses across the country. The northeast is on fire; there are riot-like situations in Uttar Pradesh while tension is high in the rest of the Hindi belt. Reports from Tamil Nadu haven’t come and the reaction from Gorkha population in Uttar Pradesh’s Tarai region and the northeast has failed to make headlines.
The Citizenship Act is a devious ploy to change the soul of the Indian Constitution into that of a Hindu Rashtra while leaving its cover intact. It is an organised crime against humanity. This cruel law has left the entire country burning in the fire of revolt. People must see that this law does not target Muslims alone but everyone who is a native of India.
In India, many tribal people still live a nomadic life without any document or identity certificate. It’s the same with all the landless people who are still dependent on the landlords that they have been working for generations. There are daily wagers, those who roam around in search of work, those who don’t have a permanent residence — from where will they bring the documents? Dalits living in slums are forced to flee their shanties every time there is a heavy downpour — from where will they bring the papers? Tribal people who still don’t have access to electricity — what citizenship proof will they furnish? In one stroke, the brutal Modi regime will term all of them as ‘foreigners’. In reality, Muslims are just an excuse; the real target of this government are the native Bahujans.
Another ploy to usurp Bahujan’s rights
Today, tribal people are being expelled from forests because they don’t have papers to show they belong. Until now, they were fighting to save the forests; now they will have to fight a battle to save their citizenship, because tomorrow, they are going to be dispelled from the country.
Several tribes in the northeast are Muslims, who have not been able to avail citizenship for various reasons. For them, the NRC brings only difficulty and crisis. Several tribes working in the tea gardens of Assam never got the status of Scheduled Tribes. Governments come and go, but their situation doesn’t change because no one paid any attention to their woes.
Many tribal communities like Gorkha, Koch Rajbangshi, Bodo, etc. will face hardships because of the CAA and the NRC. They will be a danger of losing their reserved resources. The NRC process will be rigged, mistakes will be introduced in their names and their citizenship will be taken away to deprive them of the reservation benefits.
The Citizenship Act seems to have emboldened those people who want India to be declared a Hindu Rashtra. Hatred is being sown against some religions and those who follow no religion. All this shows the next thing this BJP government wants to do is declare India a Hindu Rashtra, which will certainly push the country towards destruction.
Babasaheb Ambedkar used to say not to consider him as dead after he is gone. “As long as the Constitution is alive, I am alive. Just don’t let the Constitution die.” We will not let Babasaheb die. We will protect the Constitution until our last breath.
We all have to unite to fight this. To save India and protect our Constitution, we will have to come out of our homes.
The author is the founder of Bhim Army. Views are personal.
This article has been translated from Hindi. Read the original here.