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The Citizenship (Amendment) Act, 2019: An Attempt to Ameliorate the Wound of Partition of India

 

In the month of December 2019, both the houses of parliament passed a bill relating to amendments to Citizenship Act which has become The Citizenship (Amendment) Act, 2019. The main feature of this Act is that it permits Indian citizenship to religious minorities consisting of Hindu, Sikh, Jain, Buddhist, Christian and Parasee religions belonging to Pakistan, Bangladesh and Afghanistan who came before 2014. This consideration has been made on the basis of religious persecutions of these minorities in theocratic countries of Pakistan, Bangladesh and Afghanistan neighbouring India.

 

It is a well-known fact that at the time of partition of India, both India and Pakistan committed to fully protect the rights of the minorities in their respective countries. M A Jinnah was also on records to have stated the same in his public speech. However, Pakistan which was demanded and created on the basis of religion could not hold the promises of Jinnah to provide protection to the rights of minorities in  Pakistan. Even Pakistan could not deal fairly with Bengali Muslims and other sects within Islam. There was rampant abduction and forced conversion of Hindu and other girls of the minority communities in Pakistan which is the worst kind of persecution. The Hindu population in Pakistan shrunk from 23 per cent to about 2 per cent since the partition of India in 1947. Perhaps the people of minority communities made a wrong choice by staying in Pakistan hoping that they will not be discriminated and persecuted due to their religion, but they and their descendants suffered a lot. Thus, India as a responsible country must provide asylum and citizenship to the minority communities of these countries as they were their own people prior to independence who have no other choice except India. For Muslims of Pakistan and Bangladesh already there is no case for religious persecution. And even if sub-sects of Muslim is discriminated based on its particular sub-sect, it should be treated as their internal matter. 

 

The minorities in Sri Lanka and Myanmar can not be compared with minorities of Pakistan, Bangladesh and Afghanistan as formers are not the theocratic countries with particular state religion as their later counterparts. That is why perhaps they have not been included in this Act even though the sizeable proportion of the population of Hindu and other minority communities are there in Myanmar and Sri Lanka. However, some political parties with vested interest and leaders from other countries are creating confusion, intimidation and sense of deprives among minority community and particularly among Muslims in India which has led to widespread demonstrations, protest, arson in India leading to many losses of lives. Some of the people including Muslims in India should understand and accept wholeheartedly the rationale and spirit behind this Act and should refrain from playing as a pawn in hands of few political parties and foreign powers with their vested interest.

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