Of all reasons to oppose CAA, NPR and NRC, most worrying is the Islamists across the borders feeling enthused.
Seattle City Council, one of the most powerful city councils in the United States, recently made history. It became the world’s first elected body to pass a resolution asking the Indian government to repeal the CAA, stop the National Register of Citizens and uphold the Indian Constitution. It also sought ratification of United Nations treaties on refugees. The said resolution is being seen to be “leading the moral consensus in the global outcry against the CAA”.
Seattle is definitely not an exception.
Many concerned voices have spoken against the highly controversial discriminatory Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) 2019, which excludes Muslims [and Jews] and enforces a selective citizenship criteria based on faith. This new law effectively reduces the status of millions of Muslims in India to illegal migrants. A similar resolution was tabled by members of the European Union Parliament last month. It stands postponed right now, but that will be a short reprieve, for the members have resolved to take it up again shortly.
For the first time in independent India’s history the Indian diaspora—which is normally projected as pro-Prime Minister Narendra Modi and which does participate in rallies in his support—has been protesting against the bill along with Indian students studying in the West. These protests have been going on for close to two months in different cities and towns in different cities in the West.
Couple this development with the resistance within the country spreading to new areas and broadening to include more sections of society, as people gradually wake up to the CAA’s grim portents. Definitely, there is growing discomfort against the Modi-Shah regime. Perhaps it is a sign of desperation that in order to legitimise this law the government has been peddling half-truths even in Parliament. Prime Minister Modi quoted selectively from the Nehru-Liaquat pact to buttress his case. He used the same Nehru-Bordoloi letter to defend the CAA, which his party had earlier used to slam the Congress. Gopinath Bordoloi was the first Chief Minister of Assam after Independence.
Three incidents of firing in four days – two in Jamia Millia Islamia and one in Shaheen Bagh – quickly followed open calls to violence (‘goli maro saalon ko‘) by Union minister of State for Finance Anurag Thakur and the demonization of Shaheen Bagh protesters by BJP MP Pravesh Verma (‘the protesters will enter your homes and rape and kill your daughters’ if Modi and Shah aren’t there). In the case of the Shaheen Bagh shooter, Kapil Gujjar, the Delhi Police (which has till date not managed to find out the JNU attacker Komal Sharma’s affiliation) was quick to link him to the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) – an allegation expressly denied by his father. All these episodes, so obviously set up, basically aimed at provoking the protesters into committing some violence that the lapdog television channels would then play up, in their usual hysterical style (some of them may even have appeared on air in police uniform!), to vitiate the atmosphere.
On the very first shooting, one such channel did indeed keep doing precisely that till long after the identity of the shooter (in the clip above) had been clearly established. The clips were circulating almost instantaneously and you can hear the gunman shouting Delhi Police zindabad, and there was little chance of mistaking him for an anti-CAA protester. The channel knew exactly what it was doing and at whose behest but kept on at it till 9 o’clock at night.
From Nehru to Patel and Ambedkar, the saffron party has appropriated freedom-fighters or tarnished legacies. Gandhi, however, poses a different problem.
Death ends all enmity’ (Marnanti Vairani) goes a maxim in Hinduism.
The story also goes that when Ravana was on death bed, Ram had even asked Laxman to go to him and learn something which no other person except a great scholar like him could teach him, declaring that though he has been forced to punish him for his terrible crime, ‘you are no more my enemy’.
It is a different matter that Hindutva supremacists — who are keen ‘to transform Hinduism from a variety of religious practices into a consolidated ethnic identity’ — are believers in the exact opposite.
For them, once the enemy is dead, the enmity flares up without any limits. They have no qualms that their adversary is no more to defend himself/ herself.
It has been more than five and half years that they are in power at the Centre and we have been witness to complete vilification, demonisation and obfuscation of many of their adversaries, all great leaders of the anti-colonial struggle. Of course, few were found to be ‘lucky’ enough that were promptly co-opted/appropriated by them, of course, in a sanitised form.
Guest Post by National Coalition for Inclusive and Sustainable Urbanisation (NCU)
The National Coalition for Inclusive and Sustainable Urbanisation (NCU) unequivocally condemns the unconstitutional and anti-constitutional CAA-NPR-NRC being unilaterally imposed by the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) government. The NCU is a network of activists, researchers, urban practitioners, lawyers, informal sector workers, collectives and individuals who, for the past two years have been involved with issues of urban class and caste inequalities and is continually monitoring this acutely dangerous social condition in our cities. Therefore, are working for an alternative paradigm of urbanization. These inequalities are brought to light when basic rights such as the right to housing, participation in governance mechanisms, right to livelihood and most importantly, equal right to the city, are denied to the urban poor.
India has been going through tumultuous times. The massive inequities in Indian cities are best highlighted by a recent Oxfam report. Shockingly, just 63 billionaires have more money than the entire budget of the government of India. This disparity is mirrored in asset holdings in cities. The difference between the top 10 per cent and the bottom ten per cent is 50,000 times in Indian cities! This is further accentuated by the huge informality that exists in urban India-93 per cent.This exposes the extreme vulnerabilities faced by urban population. Continue reading CAA-NPR-NRC’s Impact on Urban Poor : National Coalition for Inclusive and Sustainable Urbanisation (NCU)→
[संशोधित नागरिकता-कानून, जनसँख्या-रजिस्टर (एन पी आर ) एवं नागरिकता-रजिस्टर (एन आर सी ) पर निन्मलिखित परचा रोहतक ज़िले के दो संगठनों – सप्तरंग व नागरिक एकता व सद्भाव समिति ने शाया किया है. जनहित में इस सामग्री का किसी भी रूप में प्रयोग किया जा सकता है। ये सारी जानकारी सार्वजनिक तौर पर उपलब्ध सरकारी या भरोसेमंद प्रकाशनों से ली गई है न कि अपुष्ट स्रोतों से। ]
आसाम समझौता, नागरिकता-कानून में संशोधन एवं आसाम का नागरिकता-रजिस्टर
नागरिकता कानून में संशोधन एवं नागरिकता रजिस्टर का विरोध एक कारण से नहीं हो रहा। यह दो कारणों से हो रहा है – उत्तर-पूर्व में अलग कारण से और शेष देश में अलग कारणों से । दोनों तरह की आलोचनाओं का समाधान ज़रूरी है।
उत्तर-पूर्व के राज्यों में इस का विरोध इसलिए हो रहा है कि इस के चलते अवैध रूप से देश में 2014 तक दाखिल हुए लोगों को भी नागरिकता मिल जायेगी जब कि 1985 में भारत सरकार के साथ हुए आसाम समझौते के तहत केवल 1965 तक आसाम में आए हुए अवैध प्रवासियों को ही नागरिकता मिलनी थी। (मोदी सरकार द्वारा पिछले कार्यकाल में प्रस्तावित नागरिकता संशोधन कानून का उत्तर-पूर्व राज्यों में भयंकर विरोध हुआ था। इस सशक्त विरोध के चलते मोदी सरकार ने 2019 में पारित कानून के दायरे से उत्तर-पूर्व के कुछ इलाकों को बाहर रखा है पर इस से भी उत्तर-पूर्व के स्थानीय संगठन/लोग संतुष्ट नहीं हैं। वे इसे वायदा-खिलाफ़ी के रूप में देखते हैं।)
आसाम (और तब के आसाम में लगभग पूरा उत्तर-पूर्व भारत आ जाता था) में अवैध प्रवासियों की समस्या बहुत पुरानी है। इस के नियंत्रण के लिए पहला कानून 1950 में ही बन गया था। इस का कारण यह है कि भारत-बंगलादेश सीमा हरियाणा-पंजाब सीमा जैसी ही है। कहीं-कहीं तो आगे का दरवाज़ा भारत में तो पिछला बंगलादेश में खुलता है। भारत के नक़्शे के अन्दर कुछ इलाके बंगलादेश के थे तो बंगलादेश के नक़्शे के अन्दर स्थित कुछ ज़मीन भारत की थी। (इन इलाकों का हाल में ही निपटारा हुआ है।) बोली, भाषा, पहनावा एक जैसा होने के चलते कलकत्ता में पहले-दिन-पहला-फ़िल्म शो देखने के लिए बंगलादेश से आना मुश्किल नहीं था। ऐसे अजीबो-गरीब तरीके से हुआ था देश का बंटवारा।
The Constitution of India should be seen as a work-in-progress – not because it has been amended ever so often by different governments but because it has been taken over by ‘we, the people’, repeatedly, especially since the 1990s. The ‘authorized’ interpreters of the Constitution and Law are no longer its sole interpreters. The continuous battles over its interpretation in the courts of law are only one way in which meaning is contested. But from the dalits reclaiming it as “Babasaheb’s Constitution” to the pathalgadi movement of the Jharkhand adivasis and finally as the banner of citizenship movement today, its meaning has been contested time and again in the streets and in villages.
It is customary, in most secular-nationalist and left-wing circles, to invoke the “great values of the national movement”, which is seen as synonymous with the “freedom struggle”, which in turn is reduced to the “anticolonial struggle”. On 15 August 1947, India attained Independence from colonial rule and on 26 January 1950, “we, the people of India” gave to ourselves the Constitution of India. The anticolonial struggle came to an end in August 1947 but that did not mean that all the currents that comprised the larger “freedom struggle” – the jang-e-azadi – got their freedom. We perhaps need to make a distinction today between the “freedom struggle” (that is still ongoing) and the “anticolonial nationalist” movement.
We need to state emphatically that the “freedom struggle” of different social groups is not – and never was – reducible to the “anticolonial struggle”. There were many different strands and currents that either functioned at a distance from mainstream nationalism , or even worked in opposition to it.
The question that is uppermost on most people’s minds today is what will happen to the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) and how long will the protests continue? The home minister Amit Shah declaring that the Act will not be withdrawn and the government will not move an inch, regardless of the protests, is a direct challenge to the people of India. With the Supreme Court looking the other way, taking up challenge thrown by Shah can only mean one thing now: if the Act does not go, the regime must. Mass movements have been known to bring down oppressive regimes, and even in the recent past, we have seen that happen in different parts of the world.
Subsequent developments, however, also indicate that often forces emerge that basically take advantage of the mass movements to hijack them and install equally unpopular regimes – a matter we need to discuss very seriously. I will briefly return to this ‘political question’ later as it is of utmost importance that we grasp the possibilities and dangers inherent in the present moment.