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Why anti-CAA protesters are wrong, writes Kanwal Sibal – analysis


The Opposition, civil society activists, students and retired government officials against the Citizenship Law (Amendment) (CAA) and the proposed National Citizens Registry (NRC) are not subject to scrutiny.

That religious minorities (mainly Hindus and Sikhs) in Pakistan, Bangladesh and Afghanistan have fled from these countries is out of the question. Simply compare the 1947 figures of the minority population of these countries with those of today. India is a natural refuge for them, since they cannot migrate to other Muslim countries and obtain citizenship.

The argument that persecuted Muslims from neighboring countries, such as Ahmadis and Rohingyas, should also be eligible for Indian citizenship under the CAA is a dejected argument. We have no higher obligation to grant citizenship to Rohingyas, who have not claimed refugee status and have entered India illegally, than Bangladesh, a neighboring Muslim country where they have sought refuge as victims of violence in Myanmar . Pakistani Ahmadis have not entered India clandestinely and, in addition, can take refuge in several fraternal Islamic countries. With December 31, 2014, as a deadline for citizenship eligibility, keep the doors of citizenship open in the future for Ahmadis, Rohingyas and other “persecuted” Muslims in Islamic countries after they illegally enter the India makes no sense.

Maintaining a citizen database is a vital aspect of sovereignty, national security and governance. Democracies around the world identify their citizens. Pakistan, Bangladesh, Nepal and Sri Lanka have citizenship lists. India needs such a database even more, perhaps due to our open or unstable borders, a long coastline, infiltration and terrorism, as well as demographic changes in some parts of the country due to illegal migration. Once the citizen database is available, illegal immigrants can be identified. If the climate crisis leads to population flows across the borders of the region, as one fears, one must think about the future.

The fear of the projected NRC has reached such irrational proportions that even those who have served the country at the highest level in government feel worried about proving their nationality because they do not have their parents’ birth certificates. It has given an almost hysterical anti-Muslim color to the CAA and any NRC exercise, as if the malicious government of Narendra Modi intended to make stateless Indian Muslims. mass and create an insoluble problem for himself, in addition to seriously endangering the politics and social peace of India.

Smears against India in the “liberal” Western press and the critical statements of some foreign leaders should not be represented and legitimized by internal critics in making the government responsible for them because of their policies. We should defend the country against such malicious attacks and undue interference in our internal affairs. The movements in the United States Congress and the European Parliament show a lack of respect for our democracy, despite the fact that they speak of shared democratic values, and should be criticized at the national level instead of the opposition taking advantage of them for the internal policy That only encourages Western anti-Indian lobbies to play in our internal divisions. We should not worry about how Western media and individual foreign legislators judge the internal political decisions we make constitutionally in our national interest. We should ask ourselves whether the opinions of Indian publishers and various members of Parliament have any importance in the decision-making of Western governments. Our normal diplomatic efforts to address international criticism should, of course, continue with self-confidence.

Arguing that CAA constitutes a violation of international law is incorrect. While Article 2 (1) of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights has been cited in support of the claim, Article 12 (1), which establishes restrictions by law in the interest of national security, and even states that a ” a foreigner legally in the territory of a State Party to the present Covenant can be expelled from it only in compliance with a decision taken in accordance with the law, “has been ignored.

The criticism that this government broke a 25-year bipartisan consensus in the United States Congress in favor of India is not true if only one remembers a bipartisan consensus against India in 1998 when we did our nuclear tests. To say that we have “divided our image with that of Pakistan in a fundamental way as a religion driven by intolerant states” is a great exaggeration, since it assumes that the CAA is equivalent to rewriting the entire Indian Constitution.

Arguments that the CAA compromises our commitment to permanent membership of the United Nations Security Council; that we have become a “reckless power with revisionist ambitions like Pakistan”; or that the patience of the establishment of Washington for us is diminishing, shows how far critics want to go to discredit the Modi government. Those who say that the closure of the Internet in Kashmir will discourage investors should explain how China has not lost investments despite the ban on Facebook, Google and Amazon.

By supporting foreign criticism, distorting the facts, misrepresenting the realities and damaging the country’s self-esteem, the passion of critics of the anti-Modi / Bharatiya Janata party undermines the country’s greatest national interest.

Kanwal Sibal is a former Foreign Secretary

The opinions expressed are personal.

Hindustan Times