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The Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) of 2019 is the most controversial article of the Constitution of India. The CAA is bereft of rationality as the Act is dyed in saffron colour. To my layman’s understanding, the CAA is contrary to the principle of Secularism which is enshrined in the Preamble of the Constitution of India. Had it been not so, for an instance, a key RSS leader Sri. J. Nandakumar, the Convenor of Prajna Pravah, an Offshoot of RSS insisted that the word “Secular’ should be removed from the Preamble of the Constitution of India as was published by local papers dated 4.1.2020. Sri. NandaKumar was right in the sense that no provision in the Constitution is supposed to remain ambiguous, nor can there be self-contradictory articles. The CAA is found discriminatory as it gives protection to those Hindu foreigners in the camouflage of giving similar favour to the religious minorities as Christians, Sikhs, Buddhists, etc. in the country. Whereas, this Act is going to largely discriminate the Muslims in India. The CAA is therefore branded as ‘fundamentally discriminatory’ by Human Rights body of the United Nations.
The consequence of the CAA will be the demographic threat to religious minorities particularly in the NE India. The CAA’s impact will be slow poisoning by which the indigenous tribal population in NE India can be submerged under the weight of the steady flow of migration of the registered Indian citizens under CAA in due course of time.
Meanwhile, the political parties and its leaders in Nagaland are talking about the State of Nagaland being exempted from the CAA. To my understanding of the so called exemption is the mere relieve of Nagaland Govt. from the cumbersome task of handling the process of registering those Hindus applying for citizenship in Nagaland. Whereas, Nagaland is neither immune nor insulated from the adverse impact of the CAA. The exemption in question is similar to that of Nagaland Liquor Total Prohibition Act (NLTPA) by which Nagaland is farcically declared to be the total dry State and it does not produce alcohol and yet the sufficient inflow of every brand of liquor into Nagaland has been free since the last 22 years. Thus, those citizenship seekers will get enrolled in other States and they will eventually come to Nagaland as legal Indians and not as foreigners.
Whereas, the Nagas of Nagaland tend to feel overconfident as though the State is insulated under ILP. Just reiterating that ILP is a law which cannot be used to disqualify an Indian visitor from entering Nagaland. Whereas, one knows how casual is the State administration in monitoring the presence of such visitors who have overstayed in Nagaland beyond the expiry of the permits. It may not be over assessment to say that few lakhs of undeserved and illegal people are living in Nagaland beyond Dimapur District in the guise of ILP holders and yet the civil and the Police administrations are ignorant of it. As of now, it seems barring the exceptional few, both the politicians and the employees remained casual with official responsibilities. Particularly the politicians are found fond of basking in the glory of the ILP and the Art 371(A) while keeping these laws abused at will and allowed it to rot too. In fact, the Govt. of Nagaland has been picnicking at the cost of the State and its citizens and with such attitude Nagaland cannot be protected.
Thus, the PDA Govt. headed by NDPP and by its official decision directed its Lok Sabha MP to vote for CAA. The party gave more importance to its relationship with BJP than the risk of the ramifications of CAA against Nagaland in the long run.
Although the NPF has penalized one of its MP for voting CAB into CAA, it became a cry over the spilled milk. The question is, why it failed to prevail upon its MPs to vote against the Bill as per its professed principle knowing the intention of the Union Govt. in advance? None can question why the NPF MP failed to defeat the Bill in Raja Sabha for the obvious reason that what a single MP could do in such situation. The questions so raised is all about the integrity, be it the organisation or the individual.
I thought bringing the urn containing the ash of the former P.M. late Vajpayi for ritualistic immersion in the Doyang river by the Honourable Minister Imna Along and the consequent backlash from several quarters against the new culture was enough for all concerned to learn lesson. Yet, again the same Minister lobbied for CAA by launching ‘missed call campaign’ in Nagaland for the people to register their support to CAA. Guiding the mass in his official capacity that the unwanted population of people cannot flock to Nagaland post CAA because of the Art 371(A) and the ILP is very unbecoming and misguiding attempt. A leader is expected to talk within the confines of legal and practical context. In case he is not sly and such perception is his genuine belief, he has to be further tutored how to be a leader. He must be advised by his senior colleague, if there is any sensible person, not to place Nagaland on sale for personal gains. The Honourable Minister Along has his full liberty to become the bootlicker of his maters within his private arena, and yet not at the cost of the interest of the State of Nagaland.
In the light of casualness and irresponsibility, Nagaland can become the biggest loser. Apart from the ramification of CAA, the Art 371(A) is under severe threat at the very moment. There is a formidable Naga lobby to dilute this special status of Nagaland. In the event of removing the Art 371(A) either straightaway by Delhi similar to that of deleting the Art 370 or getting the Art 371(A) diluted directly or indirectly, it is going to be done so in the guise of meeting the demand of some of the Nagas. The impending threat to the status of Nagaland can be thwarted now only by voicing against the anti-Nagaland lobby by the stakeholders of Nagaland. Yet, very, very unfortunately today the Nagas of Nagaland are found to be both too timid and dull even to defend ourselves for the posterity. Many Nagaland Naga leaders are found to prefer remaining as sycophant and hobnob with the perpetrators to destroy Nagaland. At this rate, therefore, the CAA’s steady strangulation is not going to spare Nagaland no matter how melodious may be the song of exemption being sang to us by NDPP, Naga MPs and Nagaland BJP but Nagaland stands to lose.
In the midst of protesting against the CAB/CAA by cross section of people across the country, Manipur tactically bargained with the Union Govt. for extending ILP to Manipur and was granted. Even as it is, Manipur is a very efficient State in the country because the politicians and the bureaucrats are very patriotic, and when the opportunity is now given to Manipur as ILP protected State, it will definitely give benefit to that State from special status point of view. The State of Manipur has therefore gained in the melee of CAB/CAA vrs protests. Someone from Nagaland who had visited Imphal recently said that the Govt. of Manipur is effectively implementing the enforcement of ILP in which none from outside Manipur is spared.
Nevertheless, the CAA has opened the Pandora’s box and it will have its share of repercussions from within India as it deserves. The CAA is indeed communal and discriminatory as it was enacted to protect the foreigners while marginalizing the bona fide Indians belonging to religious minorities. Following Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan the other non-BJP ruled States are likely to adopt similar resolution on the rejection of CAA in due course of time. The worst controversies can be expected when the CAA is implemented on ground and thus the ‘Unity in Diversity” will be jeopardised.
Just as the Hindus in India having compassion for the fellow Hindus in Pakistan, Bangladesh and Afghanistan, the Muslims in the Muslim countries will too have sympathy for the marginalised and illegally discriminated Indian Muslims by the Hindus in India. Beside what the Human Rights Body of the UN branding the CAA to be ‘fundamentally discriminatory’, The Economist Intelligent Unit (EIU), an International body has given its report on the secular credential of India at 51st position out of 165 countries in respect of Democracy Index’s global ranking. The erosion of civil liberties in India is the primary cause for India to slip by 10 places of downtrend in 2019 and placed at 51. The BJP might have been feeling elated that CAA was its historical achievement, and yet by CAA India tilts towards fascism. I believe that India is at its lowest ebb because of domestic turbulence and its international image being looked down. What does India gains out of subjective policies?
* Disclaimer. The opinions, beliefs and viewpoints expressed by the various authors and participants on this page do not necessarily reflect the opinions, beliefs and viewpoints of the Nagaland Page.