The Central Committee welcomed the growing popular protests in Assam and the entire North East region against the Citizenship Amendment Bill (2016), and issued the following note appealing for nationwide protests against the Bill on 11 June 2018.
The Modi government is trying to redefine the Republic by amending the Citizenship Act of 1955. In keeping with the BJP’s well-known concept of ‘Hindu Rashtra’ the proposed Citizenship Amendment Bill (2016) seeks to introduce a distinction among refugees on the basis of their religious affiliation and identity. According to the Amendment Bill, non-Muslim refugees coming from Afghanistan, Bangladesh and Pakistan without valid travel documents would not be treated as illegal migrants and would be allowed to apply for Indian Citizenship on easier terms than are currently prescribed for persons seeking the status of naturalised Indian citizens. This is a brazen attempt to introduce a Hindu Rashtra by the backdoor by defining citizenship on a religious basis and sanctifying the hounding of Muslim immigrants as infiltrators.
The Citizenship Amendment Bill (2016) has been met with especially intense protests in Assam, where the BJP’s intention to settle Hindu Bangladeshis in the state undermines the spirit of the Assam Accord. The people of Assam are on the streets in protest against the BJP’s attempts to play communal politics at the expense of the interests of Assamese people, and to undermine the secular basis of the Indian Constitution’s definition of Indian citizenship.
The Bill also seeks to cancel the registration of Overseas Citizens of India if they are found to violate any Indian law ‘for the time being in force’. While the government provides safe passage to economic offenders like Lalit Modi, Vijay Mallya and Nirav Modi, it evidently seeks to stifle dissent among NRIs and OCIs by threatening them with deregistration for opposing injustice and oppression in India which can easily invite prosecution under one of the many draconian laws currently in force.
People with diverse religious affiliations may and do come to India to seek refuge and asylum. They are propelled by a variety of circumstances ranging from social and political persecution to economic misery, natural calamities and climate change. The BJP, which flouts international norms by seeking to deport the persecuted and destitute Rohingya refugees from Myanmar and backs communal, Islamophobic hatespeech and violence against them, proposes to offer citizenship to Hindu refugees from countries neighbouring India! In a secular democratic republic, religious affiliation must not be made the basis to decide on either citizenship or the question of treating refugees with justice, dignity and humanitarian considerations. We must demand the scrapping of the Citizenship Amendment Bill (2016).
– Central Committee, CPI(ML)