Full Form of CAA
What is CAA?
“Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA), 2019 is a bill passed by the Indian parliament on December 11, 2019. This act provides a path to seek Indian nationality for six communities of six religious minorities (Hindus, Christians, Sikhs, Parsis, Jains and Buddhists) who escaped persecution from 3 neighbor countries (Pakistan, Afghanistan, and Bangladesh). The CAA, 2019 is an amended version of Citizenship Act, 1955.“
Amendments in CA, 2019
CAA or Citizenship Amendment was commenced on January 10, 2020. The CAA act was first introduced in a Lok Sabha parliamentary section in 2016. But the bill was not passed by the Lok Sabha then. When the BJP government came into power the second time, they reintroduced it in 2019. Lok Sabha successfully passed the act, and Rajya Sabha gave citizenship to certain migrants belonging to Hindus, Christians, Sikhs, Parsis, Jains, and Buddhists persecuted from Bangladesh, Pakistan and Afghanistan.
The CAA law is not an applicable for any Muslim residing in those three countries, i.e., Pakistan, Afghanistan, and Bangladesh, because these are Muslim-majority countries. As per the CAA bill, one of the eligibility criteria for Indian citizenship is that the candidate must have lived in India for the last 12 months and have lived in India for at least 11 years. The amended bill has also reduced the requirement naturalization period from 11-years to 5 years for the candidates belonging from the three neighboring countries and must be from the same six communities. However, the 11 years naturalization period will still apply to other migrants. The law excuses northeast India's tribal areas (Assam, Meghalaya, and Tripura) and therefore is not applicable to those regions.
The bill has also added new provisions for the Overseas Citizenship of India (OCI). The act claims the power to cancel the overseas citizenship registration if they violate any of the CAA provisions or other Indian law.
Effect of CAA, 2019
Citizenship Amendment ACT or CAA, 2019, (came into effect on January 10, 2020) has parked flames and fueled up the citizens because of the apprehension of NRC's after CAA. The idea to pass a nationwide NRC has been highlighted by Home Minister Amit Shah multiple times in different conferences.
CAA has been strongly opposed by the north eastern states of India (particularly in Assam). The people in Assam feel CAA a threat to their indigenous culture, tribal communities and social identity. Despite ILP Assam fears the already increasing population of Bangladeshi people who hold vital positions in social fabric. But the act also states that CAA is not applicable to tribal areas of Northeast and areas falling under ILP.
The prime reason to protest and oppose CAA in the rest of India is that people fear and see this law as a safety net to safeguard the citizenship of Hindus. They feel after the CAA, the NRC will be implemented to deport Indian Muslims.
Need of CAA
India is a secular land where people of different religions, tribes and communities live together. India has a sad history of partition. It became two nations in 1947 (Pakistan emerged) and later became three nations in 1971 (Bangladesh). Partition involved human suffering, perpetual pain, brutal murders, imbalance and economic loss. During the time of India and Pakistan partition, nearly 600,000 people died, and about 2 to 3 million people migrated from there land to other on both sides of the border. Even after 70 years of Independence, the second or third generation of those people is still not settled, and many of them are still living like refugees.
The six religious minorities (Hindus, Christians, Sikhs, Parsis, Jains, and Buddhists) have faced persecution in the three neighboring Islamic countries. It is, therefore, India's moral responsibility to shelter them. CAA act is a provision to do moral justice with those people and give them Indian citizenship.
Muslims are excluded from this act because the same six religious minorities have only India to come back to, whereas the Muslim migrants have other Islamic majority countries to seek shelter.
History of CAA
For centuries, India has been a home for refugees all over the world. In between the 12-16 centuries, when the Parsi community faced religious persecution, India sheltered them, and they all settled in Gujarat. When India was partitioned in 1947, nearly 10 million people were dislodged and became refugees. People were migrating from Pakistan to India in a flock. At that time, the Republic of India introduced a citizenship law to tackle these illegal migrants' swarms. In 1955, the citizenship Act was implemented, which made out a mechanism for obtaining India's citizenship, which was governed by Article 5 through 11 of the Indian constitution.
In 1971, when East Pakistan (today is known as Bangladesh) was falling apart because of mass genocide to wipe out the state's Bengali movement. At the time, India gave protection and shelter to about 10 million refugees in West Bengal, Assam and Myanmar. But the official policy was that all the refugees would have to go back, and they won't be absorbed in the Indian population. But the successive government of Bangladesh refused to take them back.
A decade later, Bangladeshi refugees started crossing the porous border and created a menace in northeastern states, especially Assam. In 1979, AASU (All Assam Students Union) raised its voice and initiated a movement to save their culture and drive out the refugees. The Assam movement compelled the government to sign the Assam Accord in 1986.
Citizenship laws became stringent with the 1986 amendment in the citizenship act, i.e., Individuals born in India could only be eligible for Indian citizenship if either his/her parents was a citizen of India. The amended Citizenship act aimed to weed out the illegal immigrants who had entered India after March 1971.
The term 'Illegal Immigrant' was added in the 2003 amendment by the Atal Bihari Vajpayee government. The following changes were made:
- After 2003- A child born after 2003 will be considered an Indian citizen only if both the parents were legal migrants or Indian citizens.
- 1987-2003- Children born after 1987 are eligible for citizenship if either parent was a citizen of India.
- Before 1987- Anyone born in Indian will be considered an Indian citizen.
- Illegal Immigrant- No citizenship registration for illegal immigrants.
Though Dr. Manmohan Singh criticized the bill and stated that the unfortunate refugees from Bangladesh and other countries had faced persecution and demanded an optimistic approach to grant citizenship to these people should be more liberal.
Citizenship Amendment Act 2019 attributes and eases the citizenship requirements for immigrants for six religious persecuted minorities (Hindus, Christians, Sikhs, Parsis, Jains and Buddhists) belonging to 3 neighboring countries of India (Pakistan, Afghanistan, and Bangladesh). As per the amended act, the candidates belonging from the same six religions and who have entered India before 31 December 2014 will not be considered illegal immigrants. Furthermore, these six religious minorities' naturalization period has been exempted to 5 years instead of 11 years.
CAA Frequently Answered Questions
Question 1: Who is opposing the CAA bill and why?
Answer: Since Modi Government declared the amendment in the citizenship act, protests vented in India's 7 Northeastern states, i.e., Manipur, Mizoram, Assam, Arunachal Pradesh, Meghalaya, Nagaland, and Tripura, the main concern of the people protesting were the threat that India's population will increase. Hindus from Bangladesh will substitute their Indigenous culture, tradition, and tribal principles. Major student bodies joined together and protested the bill under the banner of the North Eastern Student Organization or NESO.
In Tripura, the protests got heightened, resulting in lathi-charge and fired warning shots by the Tripura police to disperse people's swarm. In return, the protestors pelted the officers with stones and bottled them.
Question 2: Is CAA anti-Muslimism or pro-Hindu?
Answer: CAA is applicable for all India's citizens irrespective of their religion, gender or community, and there is no need for a valid Indian citizen to word about CAA.
Question 3: Is NRC a part of the Citizenship Amendment Act?
Answer: No, the Citizenship Amendment Act is altogether a different law and NRC (National Register of Citizen) is a different plan. The CAA will be regulated nationwide after its passage from parliament, whereas the rules and regulations of NRC for the country are still under discussion and yet to be passed. The NRC bill implemented in Assam was regulated by the Indian Supreme Court and mandated by the Assam Accord.
Question 4: How will citizenship be decided? Will it rely on the hand of the government?
Answer: Citizenship of any person will be decided on the fundamental grounds of citizenship rules, 2009. These rules are based on the citizenship act, 1955. These rules are evident and are shared publically. The central government of India will decide the citizenship of any person based on the following factors:
- date of birth
Question 5: Why CAA act is only eligible for six religious minorities? Why other migrants unlike Sri Lankan Hindus or Myanmar Rohingya’s (Muslims) cannot register for Indian citizenship under this act?
Answer: The Union government claims that India’s responsibility is to provide shelter and liberation to the immigrants who have faced persecution in Islamic countries because India got partitioned on religious outlines. In the 1970s and 1980s, India rescued and welcomed Sri Lankan Tamil Hindus.
The Muslims (Rohingyas) of Myanmar are a threat to national security. Even Saudi Arabia, a Muslim majority, has banished Rohingya immigrants. The six religious minorities have only India to come back to, whereas the Muslim migrants have other Islamic majority countries to seek shelter.