Citizenship Act 1955 Current Affairs - 2020

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Kerala: the first state to pass anti-CAA resolution

The Kerala Government on December 31, 2019, passed a resolution to rollback the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) that was passed during this winter session of Parliament. According to the Kerala Government, the CAA act contradicts the basic principles of Constitution.

Highlights

According to the Government of Kerala, the act was against secularism and has triggered widespread protests in the country. The act also dented India’s image among the International community

The act and the issue

The Citizenship Amendment Act, 2019 was passed in December 2019. The act amended Citizenship act passed in 1955. It allows Hindus, Buddhists, Sikhs, Jains, Christians and Parsi religious minorities to gain Indian citizenship. It also includes the minorities who have fled from countries such as Pakistan, Afghanistan and Bangladesh. The issue around the act is that it does not include Muslims.

The Citizenship (Amendment) bill was introduced in 2016.

Concerns of North East

Though the ongoing protests in the country is predominantly against its non-secular feature, North Eastern states are against the overall act.  The north-eastern citizens, especially Assam, fear that the act will grant citizenship to immigrants and refugees causing loss of their political, cultural and land rights. This will also motivate further immigration from Bangladesh.

Citizenship (Amendment) bill, 2019 in Lok Sabha

On December 4, 2019, the Union Cabinet cleared the Citizenship (Amendment) bill, for the bill to be tabled in Lok Sabha. The bill is being tabled amidst widespread protests in the north eastern states.

Key Features

The bill aims at providing Indian citizenship to 6 minority communities from Bangladesh, Pakistan and Afghanistan. The communities are Hindu, Christian, Sikhs, Buddhist and Jain. Currently for a person to get Indian citizenship, he should have resided in the country for 11 years. The bill intends to amend this as 6 years.

Concerns

The bill has not included Muslim community. This according to the opposition is violation of Article 14 that legalizes equality before law. The article states that the government shall show no discrimination on grounds of religion, caste, race, sex or birth.

The Illegal Migrants factor

According the Citizenship Act, 1955, illegal migrants can either be sent to jail or back to their own countries. In Assam, the protest is on rights and livelihood of ethnic communities on passage of the bill. After the bill is passed, thousands of illegal migrants will be deported according to Assam Accord. According to Assam Accord that was signed in 1985, foreigners who entered Indian soil after March 24, 1971 shall be deported.

In Mizoram, the protests are by the illegal Buddhist Chakma immigrants who were displaced by the construction of Kaptai dam on the Karnaphuli river in 1962. The Nagaland Tribes Council and Naga Students Federations sees the bill as a threat to political future of their identity.

There are protests in Manipur in the fear of the state becoming a dumping ground to foreigners

In Tripura the Kokborok community has reduced to 33% of the population of the state. Initially the state was dominated by the community with 80% of the population. Tripural believes that this condition will worsen of the bill is passed.