20, Feb 2020 | CJP Team
An awareness programme on laws relating to CAA, NPR and NRC was held at the Old Petrol Pump, Mumbra by CJP Secretary Teesta Setalvad. The said workshop started at 6:30 pm and ended at 10:00 pm. The workshop was an overwhelming success with around 2,500 attendees. Out of the total attendees, 1/3rd of them were women. The workshop gave thorough insights about the Citizenship Amendment Act, National Population Register, National Register of Citizens and the ways in which people could counter them.
Citizenship has been defined as the right to have rights. Over the past six years, there have been clear political moves to fundamentally assault and redefine this Constitutional basis of both Indian nationhood and citizenship. Especially now, with the Citizenship Amendment Act, 2019 being passed and a not thoroughly debated all India-level NPR-National Register of Citizens (NRC) process. CJP is urging people to understand, organise and fight back democratically. Let’s stand up for the Constitution of India. We must unequivocally reject CAA 2019 and at the same time in the same breath, NPR/NRC. For this we need your support.
Teesta Setalvad explained the way in which the recently concluded NRC was held in Assam. She went on to enumerate the after-effects of the NRC in Assam and how lakhs of people in Assam suffered as they were declared Stateless due to some minor discrepancies in their names or their parent’s name. She went on to highlight why the National Population Register, which is scheduled to begin from 1st of April is extremely dangerous. She explained how the NPR is the first step towards NRC and our next action-plan should be to pressurise the Maharashtra Government to stop the implementation of same in Maharashtra. Explaining the law under the Constitution (Article 5-11 relating to citizenship), the Citizenship Act 1955 and Citizenship Rules 2003, Setalvad explained the dimensions of all the three as follows:
- The Constitution firmly rejects religion based nationhood and in consonance with that the right to citizenship is equality driven and is available to all irrespective of caste, creed, gender, religion.
- Article 11 of Constitution empowers the Indian Parliament to pass a law relating to citizenship which it did in 1955.
- Under this law, Indian citizenship can be acquired through birth, naturalisation, registration or annexation.
- Amendments made to the Citizenship Act 1955 in 1987 and 2004 slightly qualified citizenship by birth but nowhere drew religion based marker.
- To put it briefly
- Before 1987: Any person born before July 1,1987 in India is automatically entitled to Indian citizenship irrespective of who that person’s parents are or where they were born and even if they were illegal migrants. For those born between July 1,1987 and December 3, 2004, they will be entitled to Indian citizenship by birth provided one of the parents was an Indian citizen at the time of birth.
- 1987-2004: Those born in India after December 2004 will get Indian citizenship provided both of their parents are citizens of India, or either parent is a citizen of India as long as the other is not an illegal migrant.
- After 2004: Thus, children born after December 3, 2004 will be prevented from acquiring citizenship in India if either one of the parents is considered as an illegal migrant.
However, the 2019 Act, for the first time excludes Muslims from 3 countries namely Pakistan, Bangladesh and Afghanistan.
- Then comes the NPR and NRC. While the Citizenship Act 1955 nowhere requires any documentary test or proof of citizenship when it comes to citizenship by birth, the 2003 rules enacted by the government empowered at that time (which had the status of subordinate legislation) for the first tim, through the backdoor, introduced such a criteria. Hence, Setalvad explained to the audience that along with demanding the complete repeal of the Citizenship Amendment Act 2019 and the withdrawal of the NPR and NRC, the 2003 Citizenship Rules need to be withdraw to take the movement to its logical end.
- The logical end is nothing short of withdrawal of the Citizenship (Registration of Citizens and Issue of National Identity Cards) Rules, 2003. Sub rule 4 of rule 4 of these rules gives arbitrary power to a lower level Taluk officer- while he is enumerating the list of “Usual residents” to include some in NPR and to mark others as “Doubtful citizens”.
- It is the NPR itself which is the 1st step which thereafter gets converted to NRIC (National Register of Indian Citizens) when nowhere in the statute there is any requirement for documentary proof of citizenship by birth. The fact that these have been brought in by the 2003 rules makes the exercise unlawful, unconstitutional, arbitrary and liable to be stuck down. This has been emphasised in the protest campaign.
- Setalvad also mentioned the confusion which was sought to be generated by the Central Government by attempting to link Census 2021 with NPR. Answering the questions for Census and socio-economic house to house survey which precedes the Census, is important for all (apart from being mandatory). However, given the current state of limbo and confusion, our demands can only be to not start the Census 2021 unless NPR is unequivocally stopped.
- Setalvad also explained the detailed documents that need to be put in place. Despite the fact that the Birth Certificate, Passport, Electoral Roll and Election cards are by respective laws, the markers of citizenship, Courts have held contradictory views from time to time. Citizens have no option but to keep a hoard of documents.
- In Assam, 69% of the women who are presently left out of NRC are because the Panchayat documents are held to be “weak documents”. Children are out of NRC when their parents are in. CJP recently made some headway by getting a favourable order from the Supreme Court in this regard. The State of Assam reportedly spent 1220 crores in the 7 year old exercise. People have sold their meagre landholdings and belongings and have spent close to Rs 24,400 crores. This is in addition to the turmoil faced by alienation of own people.
- If ignoring all this warning signs, the states in India embark on this disastrous path we will be caught in social turmoil, with lakhs of government employees doing nothing except “testing” citizenship of people. Can India afford this at this juncture? She asked.
Dr Altamash Faizi, also went on to clarify what NPR is. He has explained as how we as citizens of the country are being fooled and with the introduction of NPR, there would be no need of Census to be held. He also emphasised the fact that the Representatives who have been voted by Muslims should protest from the beginning and should be totally against NPR, failing which they should resign from their office.
Further, Dr Uzair Alam also talked about the CAA, NPR and NRC. Mr Shamim Bhai, an engineer, explained the entire CAA, NPR and NRC in the backdrop of the Quran and Hadith. He emphasised that the world was full of such tyrants and arrogant people who are no more in this world and such people have always faced defeat.
All the attendees who attended the workshop not only keenly listened to it but also made points of all the key information given during the workshop. Teesta Setalvad was greatly respected and appreciated for her unparalleled efforts towards various causes of humanity. They also demanded that such workshops should be held regularly. It was unanimously agreed that “Hum Kagaz nahi Dikhaenge lekin kagaz durust zaroor karenge”.
The panellists consisted of Teesta Setalvad, Dr Atlamash Faizi, Dr Uzair Alam, Shamim Bhai engineer and others, Nuruddin Naik.
Once the workshop was concluded, Teesta Setalvad went to visit the Mumbra Shaheen Bagh for the second time.
As a further step to help the citizens of the country, CJP is going to be starting a camp for paper correction i.e. correcting your documents. Every person can come and get their documents corrected at the earliest.