Guest Post by ‘Netherlands against CAA’
(A series of protests have been held in Netherlands against CAA by the Indian diaspora since last few days. There was a protest at International Court of Justice ( ICJ) based in Hague on 30 th December. It was the fifth protest in last ten days. Pasted below a statement issued on the occasion.)
Statement for Press Release: ICJ Protest
In light of the recent events in India, a group of Indian diaspora residing in the Netherlands, deeply disturbed by the turn of events have decided to protest against the Government of India before the Peace Palace. The protest is directed against the enactment of Citizenship (Amendment) Act, 2019 (“Act”) followed by gross perpetration of human rights violation against its citizens by the Government of India.
The preamble to the Constitution of India (“Constitution”) defines India to be a sovereign, socialist, secular, democratic, republic. The Preamble constitutes the basic structure of the Constitution (Keshavnanda Bharati v State of Kerala (1973) SCC 225) and is beyond the amending power of the legislature (SR Bommai v Union of India (1994) 3 SCC 1). These principles enshrined in the Preamble are further galvanized within Part III of the Constitution wherein Article 14 directs the State to ‘provide equal protection of laws for every person in the territory of India’ and Article 15 prohibits the State from discriminating amongst its citizen on the grounds of religion, race, caste, sex, place of birth or any of them.
The Citizenship (Amendment) Act, 2019 colours the Indian Government’s purported discrimination amongst its citizens under the garb of providing citizenship to ‘illegal immigrants’. The new amendment to Section 2(1)(b) of the Citizenship Act, 1956 renders all Hindus, Sikh, Buddhist, Jain, Parsi or Christian community from Afghanistan, Bangladesh or Pakistan, who entered into India on or before the 31st December, 2014 and have continuously resided in India for a period of 5 years after the said date as legal Indian residents. This very classification is not only violative of the Constitutional provisions mentioned above, it also jeopardizes citizenship of Indian citizens who do not belong to the aforesaid religions. The Constitution does not permit State to enact legislation based on religion, race, case, sex, and place of birth unless such legislation is made for the welfare of minorities. Through this Act, the Indian Government has discriminated on the basis of religion by providing explicit protection to the already majoritarian religions and by implicit exclusion of Indian Muslims.
In addition to the aforesaid Act, the Indian Government has also announced fresh preparation/updating of the National Population Register (“NPR”) which forms the basis of the National Register of Citizens (“NRC”) maintained by the central government. The NPR contains biometric and demographic information of Indian citizens which information can be used to link to the NRC. The consequence of such link to the NRC enables the central government to have arbitrary and discriminatory power over detaining, deporting individuals the government deems fit as ‘doubtful Indian citizens’. In fact, the Citizenship Act, 1956 vests complete authority in the central government to detain such individuals and prohibits courts from reviewing its acts which is dangerous to a democratic setup. The ongoing human rights violation in Assam (callous unreasoned orders passed by quasi judicial tribunals, multiplication of detention centres for ‘illegal immigrants’) is an example of the effect of NRC.
While these actions by the Indian government led to an unrest among the Indian masses, forceful illegal detentions and police brutality against students of Jamia Milia Islamia in Delhi and Aligarh Muslim University in Uttar Pradesh participating in these protests fuelled a nation-wide protest. Since December 15th, 2019, protests across India has resulted in more than 25 deaths across the country as a result of police brutality. It is interesting to note that all of the victims are Muslim protestors and the respective state governments have denied any compensation to the families of these victims.
In addition to these incidents, rampant human rights violations are apparent against only those individuals peacefully protesting against Indian government’s decision to implement a nationwide NRC and the discriminatory Citizenship (Amendment) Act, 2019. This is symptomatic of the Indian Government’s intolerance towards its Muslim minorities and any movement that supports equal protection for Muslim minorities. Not only are the acts endangering lives of thousands of protestors, open threats by democratically elected BJP leaders to perpetrate human rights violations against individuals protesting against the government is harrowing and threatens the peaceful co-existence of Indians. We also fear radical normalization of human rights violations against people opposing the ‘Hindutva ideology’.
The protest before the Peace Palace is an active plea for the international community including human rights organizations, representatives of governments to take due notice of these illegal acts committed by the Indian Government and condemn acts connected with ‘Hindutva ideology’ as an act of State sponsored terrorism.