Citizenship Amendment Bill 2016: A new tool for religious persecution and creating division among the masses

Rise against religious fundamentalist designs and communal conspiracies! Organize a united movement against price-rise, unemployment, capitalist plunder, environmental destruction, government repression and all anti-people policies!!

– Revolutionary Workers’ Party of India (RWPI)

The Citizenship Amendment Bill (#CAB) 2016 has been passed in both houses of the Parliament. BJP is moving at a rapid pace on its path to take India towards Hitler-era Germany and Taliban-ruled Afghanistan. The Citizenship Amendment Bill is a big step in this direction. First NRC and now CAB are nothing more than Sanghi conspiracies to throw the country into a cauldron of communal fires. The bill will be enacted into law as soon as it is signed by the President and published in the Gazette.

The intention of the BJP and its allies to target Muslims on the basis of religion has become even more naked. True to its nature, the BJP has also shown great hypocricy. While they have beating their chest on the plight of the minorities of Pakistan, Bangladesh and Afghanistan, they conveniently forgot Myanmar’s minority Rohingya Muslims and Sri Lankan minority Tamils, who have been oppressed and tortured for years.

A New Low in the Communal Fascist Politics of BJP

Anti-Muslim and communal-casteist politics has been the mainstay of BJP and its maternal organizations like Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh, Jana Sangh and Hindu Mahasabha. Communal and fascist politics always blames some community as responsible for current problems and create social instability through riots and government repression. A particular community is portrayed as fake enemy to divert attention of the people from the real issues caused by capitalism. The economic recession and crisis caused by the declining rate of profit might provoke public anger against the fascist regime and the capitalist system, so the fascist forces in the service of the corporate capitalist class are engaged in dividing and terrorizing the people. It is not a coincidence that the large part of total corporate funding is going to BJP. The fascist BJP government and the Sangh organizations have launced a vicious and highly divisive Goebbelsian propaganda campaign in the name of caste and religion to make people forget about real-life issues like education-healthcare-employment-inflation-corruption-suppression and plunder.

The BJP has been campaigning against Muslims in the name of Bangladeshi “infiltrators” for decades. BJP leaders have been spreading canards that each and every “infiltrators” will be thrown out. The first experiment to implement NRC was done in Assam. In the final list, about 19 lakh people were excluded from NRC, but as it turned out, more than 13 lakh were Hindus. Now by ensuring the enactment of the Citizenship Amendment Bill 2016, the BJP has manouevered to restore its image of “Hindu liberator” and to intimidate Muslims to relegate them to the status of second class citizens.

The Citizenship Amendment Bill 2016 was first introduced in the Lok Sabha on 19 July 2016. In the same year, it was submitted to the Joint Parliamentary Committee on 12 August. This committee submitted its report on this in January 2019. The BJP returned to power after the 2019 Lok Sabha elections. After this, the bill was again introduced in Lok Sabha on 9 December 2019 by Home Minister Amit Shah. It was passed by voice vote in the Lok Sabha in the first attempt itself. This bill was introduced in the Rajya Sabha on 11 December 2019 and was also passed there. Now after the President’s signature and getting published in the Gazette, it will become law and then all the immigrant Hindus, Sikhs, Buddhists, Jains, Parsis and Christians from Afghanistan, Pakistan and Bangladesh will be eligible for Indian citizenship. Apart from this, people belonging to the six religions from these three countries will also be given relaxation in the rules to get Indian citizenship. All such immirgrants who have been living in India for more than six years will now be eligible to get the citizenship here. Earlier this time limit was 11 years. Only Muslims are excluded from its purview.

This amendment bill considers only Muslims coming from the neighboring countries as ‘illegal migrants’, while those belonging almost all other religions are within the scope of granting citizenship. In this way, this bill negates even the extremely limited democratic rights that the Indian Constitution promises.

It clearly violates Article 14 of the Indian Constitution, which prohibits any discrimination on the basis of religion, race, caste, sex and place of birth etc. It also violates the established norms of human rights. As per the constitution anyone who is born in this country is a citizen of India; but after this bill, the next step announced by the #BJP government is to implement the National Citizenship Register (#NRC) across the country under which even those who are born in the country and who have been living in this country for many generations will have to prove their citizenship. The experience of #Assam has made it clear that to prove the citizenship one has to wander here and there and depend on corrupt government machinery. The poor and toiling masses will be the the worst sufferer.

Under the Indian Citizenship Act 1955, a person becomes entitled to citizenship of India by birth or descent or by naturalization or registration. But in an attempt to impose their agenda of building a ‘Hindu Rashtra’, the Sangh and BJP are trying to change the definition of citizenship.

The BJP government says that this bill will provide protection to the minority communities of the neighboring countries, whereas the fact is that far from taking action against those carrying out brutal oppression and repression of minorities in our own country, this government has been encouraging them.

The bill ignores the problems of those neighboring countries where Muslims are not in majority, but are victims of oppression,e.g. the Rohingya Muslims of Myanmar, considered by the United Nations to be the most oppressed minority community currently. The bill also ignores Muslims who are being persecuted in the Muslim-majority countries because they belong to a particular community, such as Ahmadiyya and Bihari Muslims of Pakistan.

Oppose Citizenship Amendment Bill 2016

A nationwide opposition to the Citizenship Amendment Bill has arisen. But the context of the opposition is different in different parts of the country. In Assam, this bill is being opposed on the ground that only Muslims will be expelled if this bill becomes law, whereas the Assamese nationalists demand that all immigrants must be expelled from Assam. This in itself is an anti-people demand. The majority of the immigrant population in Assam are very poor and toiling people who have been living there for generations. There is a historical backdrop of the protests against immigrants and non-Assamese people in Assam, which have always been utilised by the ruling classes and communal-Assamese bourgeois nationalist forces in their favour. Capitalism, through unequal development, continuously creates the socio-economic conditions due to which the movement and migration of capital and labor becomes an inevitable phenomenon. The capitalist state and all bourgeois parties take advantage of this on the nationalist and identitarian ground with the intention of fulfilling their agenda politically. On this issue, there is a need to take a stand from the working class perspective, not to sing in the tune of the reactionary slogans of bourgeois sub-nationalism, identity-politics and ‘son of the soil’, as some linguistic identitarian in the communist movement are doing today. But in most parts of the country, the Citizenship Amendment Bill is being opposed due to its communal and undemocratic character.

The Revolutionary Workers’ Party of India (#RWPI) strongly opposes the BJP’s fundamentalist communal fascist politics of dividing people on the basis of religion. It is our firm belief that BJP’s bloody game can be stopped not by brandishing paper swords while sitting in the parliament, but through street mass movements. We call upon the people to reject the communal politics of the BJP and instead organize on the real issues related to life like education-healthcare-employment-price rise-plunder-suppression and overthrow the entire anti-human capitalist system itself.

We strongly oppose the communal agenda of giving citizenship on the basis of religion. It is our firm belief that the protection of human rights of every person must be ensured, whether they belong to any nationality, race, religion, sex and race. Proper living facilities must be provided to the working population which is forced to wander here and there in search of better opportunities and living conditions. There should be no discrimination on any basis even in the laws concerning citizenship.

The BJP’s agenda of taking away people’s rights, turning opponents into second-class citizens and suppressing the public is not going to stop here. It would not be an exaggeration to say that a conspiracy might be hatched to deny citizenship to the political opponents. Those who organize people on their real issues like education, employment, healthcare might be stripped of all their legal rights and put in jails or detention centers! Only organized resistance of the people can be the answer to the nefarious designs of the Sanghis and opposition to all kinds of anti-people policies can be the proof that we are still alive.

Issued by:

– Revolutionary Workers’ Party of India (RWPI)