By Ali Sukhanver
Migration, displacement, compulsive shifting or dislodgment; whatever you call it, the process is always very painful, particularly when you know that it is going to be an irreversible process. Be its migration of the Muslims from Hindustan to Pakistan in 1947 or compulsive shifting of the Rohingyas from Myanmar’s Rakhine State to Bangladesh; the situation had ever been very painful. According to a detailed report, an estimated 655,000 to 700,000 Rohingya people reportedly fled to Bangladesh between 25 August 2017 and December 2017, to avoid ethnic and religious persecution by Myanmar’s security forces in their “clearance operations” against insurgents, joining 300,000 Rohingya refugees who were already there in Bangladesh. The Myanmar government says that Rohingyas originally do not belong to Myanmar; they are illegal immigrants from neighbouring Bangladesh. Moreover, the Myanmar government is so strict and touchy in its approach towards Rohingyas that it always refers to them as the ‘Bengalis’ in a derogatory manner.
On the other hand, the Rohingyas refute all claims of the Myanmar government and maintain that they are the native people of Myanmar and they are there for many centuries. As a result of this conflict and confrontation, the Rohingyas have to face countless troubles in Myanmar as well as in Bangladesh. Today, over 1.1 million Rohingya refugees reside in Bangladesh. The two countries, Bangladesh and Myanmar are not having a cordial relationship that is why nothing could have been done to integrate or repatriate the Rohingya refugees. In short, now hundreds of thousands of Rohingya refugees are living in abject deteriorating conditions. This all is the outcome of the New Citizenship Law implemented by the Government of Myanmar (then Burma) in 1982 which identified 135 national ethnic groups, excluding the Rohingya — effectively rendering them stateless. Unfortunately, the Government of India under the ‘kind’ leadership of Mr. Narendra Modi is once again writing the same story of distress by implementing the new Citizenship Amendment Act in India.
Experts on Indian affairs are of the opinion that CAA would do the same damage to the Muslims and other minorities which Myanmar’s New Citizenship Law (1982) did to the Rohingyas. The CAA was enacted into law on 12 December 2019. The Amendment facilitates Sikh, Jain, Parsi, Buddhist, Hindu and Christian refugees from Bangladesh, Afghanistan and Pakistan who sought refuge in India before 2015; but according to this Amendment, the Muslims from Pakistan, Afghanistan and Bangladesh as well as Tamil refugees from Sri Lanka, Rohingyas from Myanmar and Buddhist refugees from Tibet could never be blessed with Indian Citizenship.
Different analysts are of the opinion that Mr. Modi and his Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) are pursuing an anti-Muslim agenda that threatens India’s status as an officially secular republic. US Congressional Research Service (CRS) has recently issued a report on CAA which says that for the first time in independent India’s history, a religious criterion has been added to the country’s naturalization process. According to this Act, non-Muslim refugees who came to India till December 31, 2014, to escape religious persecution in Pakistan, Bangladesh and Afghanistan will be given Indian citizenship and the Muslims from these countries would be dealt otherwise. The CRS further claims that ‘the amendment’s key provisions allowing immigrants of six religions from three countries a path to citizenship while excluding Muslims may violate certain Articles of the Indian Constitution, in particular, Articles 14 and 15’. It seems that the BJP government is trying to convert the biggest minority of India into the smallest minority in number. According to a report prepared by BBC, ‘Northern India’s Uttar Pradesh has been the worst affected in the ongoing protests against the controversial new citizenship law. At least 19 people have died in the state since protests began on 20 December. The fear in the Muslim community has been fuelled further by Yogi Adityanath’s anti-Muslim statements, including advocating for a Donald Trump-style travel ban on Muslims in India.’
A more alarming thing for the Muslims in India is the implementation of the National Register of Citizens commonly known as NRC. It is a register of all Indian citizens whose creation is mandated by The Citizenship Act 1955. Initially, the NRC was implemented in the state of Assam in 2013–2014. Now the government is planning to implement it for the rest of the country by the year 2021. Experts say that the CAA is a part of the NRC. It is also being said that the CAA and the NRC, both would be used to target Muslims without documentation. Almost seven years back, when the NRC was implemented in the state of Assam, more than 1.9 million people were excluded from the list; most of the excluded ones were the Muslims. In short, more bad days are to come for the Muslims in India but it does not mean that the Christians, Sikhs and the Buddhists are standing on safer ground. They all will have to face the same situation, sooner or later if Mr. Modi remains in the chair.