Oppose the Communally Motivated Proposed Amendments to the Citizenship Act, 1955 : Delhi Action Committee for Assam

Guest Post by Delhi Action Committee for Assam

The proposed amendment to India’s Citizenship Act, 1955 has raised grave concern among democratic circles in Assam and in other parts of the country. The proposed amendment reads that “persons belonging to minority communities, namely, Hindus, Sikhs, Buddhists, Jains, Parsis and Christians from Afghanistan, Bangladesh and Pakistan, who have been exempted by the Central Government by or under clause (c) of sub-section (2) of section 3 of the Passport (Entry into India) Act, 1920 or from the application of the provisions of the Foreigners Act, 1946 or any order made thereunder, shall not be treated as illegal migrants for the purposes of this Act” and that for persons belonging to the aforementioned minority communities, “the aggregate period of residence or service of a Government in India as required under this clause shall be read as ‘not less than six years’ in place of ‘not less than eleven years’.” The proposed amendment which is being considered by a Joint Parliamentary Committee is indeed is a matter of grave concern for the whole of India. Government officials have claimed that the decision to grant Indian citizenship to the above mentioned discriminated religious communities in neighbouring countries is premised on ‘humanitarian grounds’. Notwithstanding this benevolent claim by the government, one needs to carefully place this proposed amendment in perspective.

The proposed amendment is premised on the religious persecution of non-Muslim minorities in neighbouring Muslim majority countries. While religious basis have ‘softly’ underlined India’s approaches to the issue of immigration since the Partition, what is alarming with the amendment proposed by the current government is its vehement attempt, in the garb of humanitarianism, to upturn the Constitution of India by slyly trying to introduce religious right-to-return. The current government displays zero or very little humanitarian concern for non-Hindu marginalised communities in the country and in neighbouring countries.

Unlike Israel, Korea (both South and North), and few other countries, Indian law and the Constitution till today doesn’t recognise any notion of ‘Right to return’. This is the first time, when a sort of religious ‘right to return’ – is being advocated by the law-makers. To reiterate, this runs contrary to the secular fabric of the Constitution.

Further apart from complicating the already vulnerable demographic cauldron of the state of Assam, the circumstances under which the amendment is sought to be carried out raise questions about the federal structure of the country. The proposed amendment overrides the Assam Accord of 1985 which sets the date of 24 March 1971 as the cut off date for categorisation of illegal foreign immigrants to Assam, irrespective of Muslims or Hindus. In 1986 the Citizenship Act was amended and Article 6A was inserted. Retrospectively Article 6A granted citizenship to all those who entered Assam on or before 24 March 1971. How many amendment to Citizenship Act is required? Ain’t the amendments made after the Assam Accord of 1985 not enough?

We strongly demand that the proposed amendment to the Citizenship Act 1955 be immediately withdrawn.

Join the Protest Demonstration Against Citizenship (Amendment) Bill, 2016, at 2 pm, 29th September, Jantar Mantar

Strange yet familiar – race politics in the USA

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Here is a link to Jon Stewart on race politics in the USA, in the context of the recent shooting by a white cop of a black unarmed teenager in Ferguson.

See any resemblances to our own fair country and the politics of caste, class, gender and community here? So familiar are the doubts expressed, questions raised, biases proudly stated, you could be pardoned for thinking it’s not the US of A, but Mera Bharat Mahan.  Continue reading “Strange yet familiar – race politics in the USA”

When David Became Goliath: Lee-Alison Sibley

Guest post by LEE-ALISON SIBLEY

Back in the 1960s when Hollywood was making a number of movies based on biblical stories, they came out with Orson Welles as King Saul in “David and Goliath.” I was a little kid when I saw this movie, but I remember identifying with little David who yes, played beautifully on his harp, and used his slingshot with divine accuracy. I also remember the monster Goliath – he was huge and ugly and represented the Philistines, our enemies.  I cheered in my head and my heart for David to defeat the monster and he did, so that I could feel the good guys won and God was indeed on our side, the side of the Israelites.

Like any idealistic Jew, though not religious, I went to Israel to work on a kibbutz in the summer of 1971.  I was in the south, near Eilat and the border with Jordan.  Young and naïve, I was friendly with everyone I met — the Sabras of Israel, the Christians in Bethlehem, and Arabs in Gaza. In Gaza?  Yes, I was there with a British fellow from the kibbutz who was picking up some cane furniture he had ordered.  I wasn’t supposed to be there, of course, and when an Israeli army jeep spotted me, my friend was in big trouble.  “Get her out of here immediately!” was the order he shouted.  I guess it had something to do with my appearance and that there were no other women on the street at that time.  Like I said, I was friendly with everyone – my parents did not raise me to hate, they raised me to love.  The Israelis tried to make me feel guilty for not staying in Israel, but I kept saying, “I’m an American, my home is the U.S.A.”  Still, I certainly supported Israel and every person I met there had lost someone, a family member or a friend in a war and I felt very sad for them and angry that they lived with the constant threat of attack. Continue reading “When David Became Goliath: Lee-Alison Sibley”

Spring in Israel? Internal voices of dissent grow

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Over 150,000 social justice protesters took to the streets of 11 cities across Israel.These protests, which some are calling part of an “Israeli Spring”, began initially in response to the country’s housing crisis. But since as they began gaining momentum, they have spread to a host of social and economic complaints, including overlap with the struggling Israeli peace movement.

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Concerned Public Health Professionals on the Israeli attack on Gaza

The following is a statement issued by some concerned public health professionals in New Delhi, on 21st July, 2014

The world is once again witness to the macabre dance of death in Gaza unleashed by the Israeli aggressors, and once again the news of scores of innocent Palestinian deaths, including those of a number of women and children, is flooding in. The tragedy is compounded many-fold by the conspiracy of silence on this issue entered into by all the major powers of the world, who have singularly failed to take any effective measure to restrain the Israeli aggressors. The only exception to this silence is USA, Israel’s long time sponsor, which has once again blocked efforts at the United Nations to pass any motion of censure against Israel.

Israel’s alibi for the latest attack – to punish perpetrators of abduction and murder of three Israeli boys, holds little merit when Israel is the occupying force in first place and its leaders are belligerently calling for annihilation of ordinary Palestinian lives without discretion in accordance with their doctrine of ‘collective responsibility.’ The deputy speaker of Israeli Knesset, Moshe Feiglin has called Arab people “a gang of bandits” and has argued in favor of Israeli government cutting off electricity supply to Gaza in order to paralyze its hospitals. His reported statement is – “The blood of a dialysis patient in Gaza is not redder than the blood of our IDF (Israeli Defense Forces) soldiers who will, God forbid, need to enter Gaza.” Continue reading “Concerned Public Health Professionals on the Israeli attack on Gaza”

Life in a ‘Sterilized’ Zone, Hebron, Palestine: Ravinder Kaur

Guest Post and Photograps by RAVINDER KAUR

Map of Hebron, Courtesy ‘Breaking the Silence

On 12th June, 2014, the kidnapping of three Israeli teenagers near Hebron resulted a massive military search operation in the area. Since 30th June when their dead bodies were found north of Hebron, a Palestinian teenager has been abducted and killed in a revenge attack in East Jerusalem, and concerted air strikes have been launched on Gaza by the Israeli forces as punishment to Hamas who Israel holds responsible for the abduction and murder of the teenagers. In ten days of Israeli air strikes more than 216 have been killed in Gaza, and rocket firing by Hamas has claimed one life in Israel. A ground invasion began yesterday evening. Even as talks of a possible ceasefire, and resuming normal life, take shape, one might consider what ‘normality’ constitutes in a place like Hebron that has been at the center of the current conflict. It is in the normal, the routine that the spectacular violence takes shape.

Continue reading “Life in a ‘Sterilized’ Zone, Hebron, Palestine: Ravinder Kaur”

The Memory of Fifty Seven Seconds: After Watching an Israeli Missile Strike in the Gaza Strip on Al-Jazeera

A short fragment of video, fifty seven seconds long, taken from behind a window in a building in the Gaza Strip which was aired last night on Al Jazeera television brought home (once again) the sheer horror of the Israeli Defence Forces’ (IDF) brutal, ongoing offensive against the people of Palestine with devastating clarity.

Continue reading “The Memory of Fifty Seven Seconds: After Watching an Israeli Missile Strike in the Gaza Strip on Al-Jazeera”