The mindless violence over Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) is a classic example of how a humane initiative can be made to appear monstrous and evil by skillful use of mischievous propaganda, lies and sinister planning. 95% of the protesters have not read this Act, yet they have declared Jihad. Remaining 5% who see themselves as conscience keepers of the nation have joined the chorus blinded by their hatred for PM Narendra Modi.
In simple words, CAA merely legitimizes the stay of 15 lakh odd Hindu, Sikh, Parsi, Christian, Buddhist and Jain immigrants, who escaped from Pakistan, Bangladesh and Afghanistan due to their continuous religious persecution and are staying in India as refugees. It is a one-time dispensation and its cut-off date for eligibility is December 31, 2014. The Act excludes illegal Muslim immigrants because they did not come to India due to religious persecution but in search of better economic opportunities. The protesters call CAA divisive and insist that it is going to break India on religious basis. Perhaps they would have liked over 1 crore 65 lakh illegal Muslim immigrants to be bracketed as religiously persecuted in their Islamic countries and given citizenship under this Act so that India remains united. You could not have a more bizarre situation where illiteracy of a law becomes a reason to burn the nation.
Kapil Sibal, the legal honcho of Congress, cannot figure out how the government will know whether Hindu immigrants were persecuted and Muslims were not. His problem is he has not witnessed the pogrom that Hindus have gone through in Bangladesh and Pakistan at regular intervals. Sikhs, Christians and Buddhists have not been far behind in suffering the same fate. Wish Sibal had listened to the horrifying account of two Christian families whom I met recently in the US. They had adopted Muslim names to survive for nearly thirty years but once Jesus tumbled out of their cupboard, life became a living hell for them. Subsequently, they escaped to the US via Mexico and are now US citizens.
Mindless Opposition to CAA
Opposition to the CAA in North East States is understandable to some extent. People of the region have been victims of indiscriminate influx of illegal immigrants — both Muslim and Hindus — who have adversely impacted their demography, language, culture, property rights and electoral arithmetic. They would naturally be apprehensive that another addition of 12 to 15 lakh Hindu refugees to their population would further corrode their political, social and cultural cohesiveness and eat into their economic resources.
Actually, this is more an imaginary fear than reality. Most of these refugees are abysmally poor, illiterate and are living in horrible conditions. They need help to merely survive without any uncertainty of their status. The violence unleashed by AASU (All Assam Students’ Union) etc. to get their voices heard is therefore unjustified. Look at what they have finally achieved. Four lives have been lost, hundreds of protesters are nursing injuries, public and private property worth crores of rupees lie destroyed and life has come to a standstill in many areas thereby disrupting supplies of essential commodities. Their leaders should have discussed their unease with the Prime Minister and Home Minister who would have surely found ways either to absorb the small numbers of CAA beneficiaries in the rest of the country or settle them in the North East, subject to acceptable local restrictions. They should have also realized that these beneficiaries were being offered citizenship of India and not for the states of the North East.
However, the violent reaction in rest of the country is sheer madness. It has been obvious from day one that the Congress and its allies, TMC, SP, BSP and Leftists would not let the exclusion of illegal Muslims migrants from the CAA go unexploited. It was an issue ideally suited to inflame passions of Muslims to reap rich electoral dividends in future elections. Since they could not openly ask for giving citizenship to 1 crore and 65 lakh illegal Muslims in India, an ingenious campaign was set in motion to invite fire from Muslim organizations, Muslim students and clerics, saying that with CAA becoming a reality, NRC (National Register of Citizens of India) will follow next. Their statements cleverly camouflaged CAA and made it sound as NRC. After this, it became easier to enlist support of gullible Muslims who were told that 21 crore Muslims of the country will soon be asked to prove genuineness of their claim that they are Indian citizens and most of their claims will be rejected, leaving them with no choice but to live in India either as illegals or face forcible deportation to alien lands.
This sinister propaganda was an instant hit. Muslims, duly propped up by their cheer leaders among Hindus, have hit the roads in huge numbers. What happened subsequently is a shame for any civilized society. Protesters littered streets with stones and fire balls, burnt vehicles, destroyed government and private properties, attacked policemen and paralyzed life. In a clever twist to the plot, the police action in Jamia Millia Islamia and Aligarh Muslim Universities were touted as an assault on students’ community, provoking students even of the IITs and IIMs to come out of their classes to protest in solidarity for their comrade in arms. No one had the appetite to know the circumstances in which Police entered the campus and the action they took. No one was willing to restrain themselves from spouting incendiary reactions till the inquiry was over. Maharashtra Chief Minister on probation Uddhav Thackeray’s statement that police action in Jamia Millia Islamia was similar to the massacre of Indians in Jallianwala Bagh, Amritsar was just sickening.
The Jamia students cannot absolve themselves of the charge that they were not responsible for riots and arson in their campuses and outside. The politicians and activists also cannot say that they were marching peacefully but trouble makers suddenly turned violent catching them by surprise. It is a common knowledge that agitations are invariably hijacked by miscreants. If they could not control the criminals, they had no business protesting. Instead, they should have expressed dissent in writing or approached the courts for relief.
In the mayhem unleashed by protesters, no one seems to have a heart for the persecuted Hindus, Christians, Sikhs and Parsis, Jains and Buddhists. No one has heard a single voice from Muslims, pseudo-Hindu elites and non-BJP political parties supporting the citizenship rights of the motely group of religiously persecuted non-Muslims. Forget about the voice. Amarinder Singh, a Sikh Chief Minister of Punjab, won’t accept persecuted Sikhs in his state. Mamata Banerjee, Hindu Chief Minister of West Bengal, would allow implementation of CAA only on her dead body. Pinarayi Vijayan, a Christian Chief Minister of Kerala, has refused to take the persecuted Christians back in his state. Others who would not accept these hapless non-Muslim refugees are Hindu Chief Ministers Kamal Nath of MP, Bhupesh Baghel of Chhattisgarh and Ashok Gehlot of Rajasthan because their party leadership doesn’t want to forego its share of Muslim votes. This is not a season for sanity but grandstanding and false bravado.
Their defiance is indeed comical. How can these chief ministers refuse entry of CAA beneficiaries if they come looking for jobs, education etc. in their states? As citizens of India they can go anywhere to earn a living. What is their fear from these poor, neglected and abandoned lot? Unlike Rohingyas and Bangladeshi illegal migrants, they have never been involved in any crime or terror activities. And finally, how much difference will they make with their approximately 6 lakh effective votes to BJP’s electoral prospects? Hardly any.
Role of Police
The police have been the worst sufferers. They have actually nothing to do with CAA, NRC, votes or politics. Their job is only to ensure our safety. Why can’t politicians, students and Left-Liberals sort their problems out among themselves? Perhaps they cannot. So, the easiest way out for them is to flex muscles and suck the police in. As usual, police have been denounced as demons and barbaric for handling rioters and stone pelting students and insensitive for dealing with the likes of Ramchandra Guha. Jamia Milia Vice Chancellor says that police entered the university campus without permission. Is Jamia Milia outside the country where police cannot go in the hot pursuit of arsonists? Similar complaints are often heard from politicians, students, faculty members and university and college heads. There may be an informal understanding but there is no law that prevents police from entering campuses to deal with gherao of faculty members and vice-chancellors, destruction of university properties and seditious activities.
Salman Khurshid of Congress wanted Delhi Police to engage students in dialogues and persuade them to return to their classes. He should know that it the responsibility of teachers and leaders like him to drill sense in students. The police cannot give any assurances on CAA. A retired DG (Director General) of UP Police was fuming the other day on a television channel that police mishandled the situation because it had no advance intelligence and made no preventive arrests. He should have known that in a rapidly evolving agitation, advance intelligence is a rarity. The event catches you by surprise, leaving you with no room for planning and preventive arrests. You have to deal with it as it surfaces promptly, and often harshly. Actually, the police seem to have been extraordinarily circumspect in handling the rioters in Gujarat, UP, Karnataka and Delhi, in particular. The outcome was there for everyone to see. The law was in the rioters’ hand and police were throughout at the receiving end. It is time the police leadership understands that a determined mob of criminals cannot be controlled by persuasion and lathi charge. There is no need to hold fire when rioters rule the streets.
CAA is there to stay. Hopefully, the Supreme Court will not derail the effort of the incumbent NDA government to give a permanent home to those who suffered continuous religious persecution and have nowhere to go. However, there is an imminent need to educate people what CAA is all about, how NRC is different from CAA, whether NRC for the country is coming at all and if so, in which form. The criteria for the eligibility to Indian citizenship under the NRC must also be widely publicized to help Muslims, in particular, understand their folly and see through the game of unscrupulous politicians.