Dr Sapna Bansal
Lately India has seen a lot of protests being staged against implementation of citizenship amendment act (CAA), National register of citizens and citizenship amendment act remainsa hotly debated topic which divides opinion, often discussed but rarely understood.
To Start with let us understand the meaning of NRC and the need to implement it. National Register of Citizens (NRC)is the register maintained by government of India containing names and certain relevant information for the identification of genuine Indian citizens in the state of Assam . The register was specifically made for Assam. Assam the north-eastern state has become the first state in the country where updationof NRC is being taken up.
People are usually faced with confusion when we talk about citizenship amendment bill and citizenship amendment act when you want to change something in some law or add something new to that law then you bring in a Bill. It is a drop of legislative proposal when a citizenship amendment act is the bill introduced in Parliament to amend the citizenship act of 1955
The CAB 2019 now CAA is a one time measure to address a specific issue. Highlights are:-
The amendment of act will consider citizenship to religiously persecuted minorities from Islamic countries of Pakistan, Bangladesh, Afghanistan.
These minorities are Hindu, Sikh, Jain, Bauddh , Parisian and christian
The provision is only for those who came to India by 31st December 2014 and not thereafter.Theywill be eligible for citizenship after completing 6 years stay in India.
It may be clarified here that all other persons including muslims can still apply for Indian citizenship under normal provisions of the Citizenship Act 1955 .
The protests in the most parts of India, other than the NorthEast(NE) Indian States, is mainly due to the falsely alleged Unconstitutional/Non-Secular/Discriminatory Nature of the CAA & NRC. The ACT IS NOT DISCRIMINATORY /UNCONSTITUTIONAL as being vastly claimed by the media and many others.
However, The protests against the CAA 2019 in the NorthEast(NE) India are against the permission of citizenship to the illegal immigrants(irrespective of their religion) in the region as the Act shall adversely affect the indigenous demography of the region and snatch away the resources and jobs from the rightful indigenous people. However, a large part of the NE are exempt from the provisions of the act by the Schedule 6 (parts of Assam, Meghalaya, Mizoram & Tripura) & Inner Line(entire states of Arunachal Pradesh, Nagaland, Mizoram and now, Manipur as of 16/12/2019). Yet the provisions still apply in the regions of the NE not covered either in Schedule 6 or Inner Line(IL). Meghalaya may soon be included in the IL. The protests for the rights of the NE indigenous is totally justified.
This CAA in no way affects citizenship of existing Indian citizens including muslims.
The need for NRC which was made part of Citizenship Act in December 2004 by the then congress govt is to identify and deport illegal migrants and maintain a register of Indian citizens. The present govt has declared its intent to bring NRC for whole of India. But at present no details are available as it has not been brought out so far.
Dr Sapna Bansal is a professor in University of Delhi and her Views are personal.