CAA “badly misinterpreted” by international, domestic communities, say experts
“Unfortunately, the whole narrative of CAA (Citizenship Amendment Act) has been so badly misinterpreted that it has sent across the world a message that India is disenfranchising the Muslim population in the world,” Joyeeta Basu, the Editor of The Sunday Guardian said.
However, she said, the actual idea is that many people from six religions, because of religious identity have been persecuted in Pakistan, Afghan, and Bangladesh can seek refuge in India. “CAA is a special regime to give them citizenship by the process of naturalization after staying in India for the last five years,” she added.
Her remarks came at a webinar organized by the Usanas Foundation on the topic “Minorities in Pakistan: A Life Under Siege” on Friday.
Basu further said that because of the “bad communication skills” of this government, India was not able to make it clear to the international as well as the domestic community that CAA is a step to make things easy for certain communities. “It is not a free pass to anybody. They just have to fulfill certain requirements. It is not about denying citizenship to any Muslims who are coming in,” she said.
The webinar also saw the participation of Savio Rodrigues, Editor-in-Chief of Goa Chronicle and CEO, Kaydence Media Ventures Pvt. Ltd; Dr. Omendra Ratnu, ENT Surgeon and Founder, Nimittekam; Amanjeet Singh, President, Sikh Youth of Jammu and Kashmir; and Dharmendra Singh Rataul, Former journalist with Indian Express and Education management expert with Khalsa College, Amritsar.
The Citizenship (Amendment) Bill, 2019 seeks to fast-track citizenship for persecuted minority groups in Pakistan, Bangladesh and Afghanistan. The six minority groups that have been specifically identified are Hindus, Jains, Sikhs, Buddhists, Christians and Parsis. The Bill aims to change the definition of illegal migrants. However, the Act doesn’t have a provision for Muslim sects like Shias and Ahmedis who also face persecution in Pakistan.
Dr. Ratnu said that CAA is not only a piece of extremely “compassionate and intelligent act” but it also outsmarted the radical Jihadi ecosystem.
“We have been out-funded and outsmarted by massive Jihadi machinery. There is no rationale for Muslims from any of these three countries to seek refuge in India. Remember, this country was partitioned on the basis of religion. We do not want anyone from these three countries except our forgotten Sikhs, Parsis, Muslims, Buddhists, Jains, and Christian brothers who were left to face persecution. It is just an extension of the Citizenship Act in 1955, that is it,” he said.
Dr. Ratnu’s organization acts as an interface between Pakistani minorities and India. Till date, the organization has been able to get 2,000 Indian citizenships to Pakistani minorities.
He also threw light on the less discussed idea of the Hindu economy and said that the primary reason because of which the government seems to be ineffective, is “our negligence towards the Hindu economy”.
“The Halal economy is a three trillion economy – being diverted to Jihad and purchasing Hindu leaders. Hindu side has to establish and promote their own economy. Why can’t the RSS and VHP openly declare the radical Jihadis as their enemies? PFI does not depend on the government for anything. They do everything on their own. We need to attack the Jihadi black money. PFI is funded by Zakat. Where is the Hindu Zakat? It is a simple game of economics. We need to attack the Jihadi ecosystem politically, economically, morally, theologically, psychologically, and comprehensively,” he said.
Talking about his experiences of working as a reporter with the Indian Express, covering Indo-Pak border issues, Dharmendra Singh Rataul said that minorities in Pakistan are severely charged on minor allegations, leading to punishments like death penalty.
In Pakistan, he said, Blasphemy laws are used to fulfill a personal vendetta. “Victims are immediately presumed guilty, even without proper investigation and holding the trial under jury”, he said.
He further argued that intense migration has been a major result of persecution and quoted the example of the Pakistani Ahmadiyya community settling down in the Indian state of Punjab.
He said that instead of checking the persecution of minorities, the Pakistan government has rather chosen not to speak.
“Attacks on minorities have led to the condemnation of Pakistani policy at a global level to some extent. However, human rights violations in Pakistan have never been raised at the global level much. Pakistan’s foreign policy has always been India centric. We see no other issues being raised by Pakistan at the global platform except India. We have hardly seen any mention of minorities in it,” Rataul said.
Meanwhile, Savio Rodrigues said that in India, it is believed that anything done by the BJP government would certainly be against the interests of the Christian community.
“Here (in India), fear factor comes to play that the BJP-RSS leadership is posing a danger to Christians in India. It is cultivated by the archbishops and fundamentalists in India, just before elections. But there are hardly any numbers to prove this fact. The situation of Christians being in danger is a blatant lie, created by a group of certain people in collaboration with the Church,” Rodrigues said.
He criticized the Catholic Church and said that it took an antagonist stand against the CAA and stood against entitling citizenship to Christian refugees by India.
“Nation is above all. No religion comes above the nation, not even church. The case on Asia Biwi was a false one, and finally, she had to flee to Canada. Any minorities aren’t safe in Pakistan. Hindus, Sikhs, and Christians – all are connected to India. They must realize this. Pakistan is driven by radical Islamic Jihad,” he said.
The minorities in Pakistan, he added, must understand that India is a friendly nation and is always standing ready to help them all.
Sikh rights activist Amanjeet Singh began by mentioning the slogan of Pakistani tribal raiders during 1947-48 massacre of Kashmiri Hindus and Sikhs which said “Muslim ka Ghar, Hindu ka Zar, and Sikh ka Sir” (let us take shelter at Muslim houses, burn down houses of Hindus, and behead Sikhs).
Singh said that more than 30,000-35,000 Sikhs were massacred in Kashmir and cities of Mirpur and Muzafarrabad were cleansed from the Sikh population.
Terming the efforts of Pakistan President Imran Khan on Kartarpur Corridor as a “nuisance”, Singh said that the Sikh community should not forget the plight of Gurudwara Naluchi Sahib in Pakistan occupied Kashmir (PoK) in which 2,000 Sikhs were set on fire.
Attacking Khalistani forces, he said that the international Sikh diaspora should think about how Imran Khan, who has the blood of Sikhs on hand, could work for the welfare of Sikhs.
“Pakistan is doing this just for the sake of propaganda and money. All fault is of the Sikh and Hindu leadership. They should take a firm stand. The government should take up their cause, or else the remaining Sikhs would be forced to leave Kashmir,” he said.
He further talked about the persecution of Kashmiri pandits and concluded by saying that the CAA was a humane act and has nothing to do with politics.