Why the Indian Citizenship Bill is critical for the persecuted minorities of South Asia

Last updated on Dec 4, 2019

Posted on Dec 4, 2019

The Indian Citizenship Amendment Bill has been cleared by the cabinet for the Parliament to take over.  It will be tabled in Lok Sabha for clearence.  The bill’s provisions ensure that refugees from minority communities like Hindu, Jain, Buddhist, Sikhs, Parsi or Christian coming from Afghanistan, Bangladesh, and Pakistan will be eligible for Indian citizenship.  Since Afghanistan, Pakistan, and Bangladesh are Muslim majority countries known for persecutiion of minorities, Muslims seeking migration will not be entitled.

A lively debate is going on which is based more in ideological stances, often divorced from the context of reality.  Let us look at the facts and why the Bill is structured the way it is, rhetorical spins from anti-Government lobbies notwithstanding.

We will cover…

The Persecuting community cannot be given relief for persecution

Every law has to be in context of the times and social realities it is for.  Laws cannot be made subject to arbitrary ideals or statements without any link with reality.  Those who are saying that the Citizenship bill discriminates the Muslim “refugees” do not reveal that they are talking about the so-called “Muslim refugees” from Muslim majoritarian countries where the non-Muslims are persecuted because of their religion.  The persecution of the non-Muslims in South Asia is not in a vacuum.  It has a reason and basis behind it.  And that basis is establishment of those nations as Islamic theocratic states.  Because of that, those non-Muslims have no place to go except India.  The Muslims, however, have established their societies for themselves.  Why would they want to come to India and who, pray, is persecuting them in the Islamic states that they established based on their interpretation of Quran and Sunnah?

Let us understand the context of the whole situation as it is, and not as people are spinning it to be.

Persecution of non-Muslims in Islamic State of Pakistan

As Farahnaz Ispahani, former member of the National Assembly of Pakistan, says in her book “Purifying the Land of the Pure: A History of Pakistan’s Religious Minorities”, the non-Muslim minorities in Pakistan have almost completely been wiped out.

In the last 30 years, around 1500 individuals, predominantly Christians and Hindus, have been charged under the draconian Blasphemy law in Pakistan.  As per a report by Asian Human Rights Watch, every month 20-25 Hindu girls are kidnapped and ‘converted’ to Islam in just one Pakistani province – Sindh.

In 1949, an Objectives Resolution was passed by the Constituent Assembly.  This resolution defined the foundational principle for Pakistan’s Constitution.  It clearly stated what will be supreme in Pakistan in terms of law and constitutional supremacy.  The architect of the Objectives Resolution was an Ahmadi named Sir Muhammad Zafarullah Khan.

  • Sovereignty belongs to Allah alone but He has delegated it to the State of Pakistan through its people for being exercised within the limits prescribed by Him as a sacred trust.
  • The State shall exercise its powers and authority through the chosen representatives of the people.
  • The principles of democracy, freedom, equality, tolerance and social justice, as enunciated by Islam, shall be fully observed.
  • Muslims shall be enabled to order their lives in the individual and collective spheres in accordance with the teachings of Islam as set out in the Quran and Sunnah.
  • Adequate provision shall be made for the minorities to freely profess and practice their religions and develop their cultures.
  • Pakistan shall be a federation.
  • Fundamental rights shall be guaranteed.
  • The judiciary shall be independent.

IN Bangladesh, after partition, Non-Muslim population was 25% of the overall population.  By 2011, the population of Hindus was 92% and all non-Muslims was 10.2%.

Persecution of non-Muslims in Islamic State of Bangladesh

The situation in Bangladesh has not been any better.

As per Rana Dasgupta, the general secretary of Bangladesh Hindu-Buddhist-Christian Oikya Parishad, there has been a systematic persecution and targeting of Hindus specifically and non-Muslim minorities in general by the State of Bangladesh.

In his keynote paper, Advocate Rana Dasgupta, the general secretary of Bangladesh Hindu-Buddhist-Christian Oikya Parishad, said the Vested Property Act as the root of the land confiscation epidemic. Rana Dasgupta said that through the Enemy (Vested) Property Act, five million Hindus – almost 40% of Hindu households in Bangladesh – lost 2.6 million acres of land since independence. “Around 10 million Hindus have already left Bangladesh since 1964, meaning some 632 Hindu people on average have been forced to leave the country every day due to law-induced discrimination,” Rana said. “If this trend continues then there will be no more Hindus in Bangladesh in 20 years.” Noted Economist, Prof Abul Barakat, said people are more apathetic to communal violence these days. “With this level of attack on minorities, it seems like Bangladesh is turning into Banglastan,” he said.Rana Dasgupta

The laws are very specifically anti-non-Muslim.

What about the persecuted Ahmadis in Pakistan?

Gohar Rahman, a World War II veteran from Muzaffarabad (now in Pakistan) remembers the time when the “Pakistani tribals” came to unleash plunder and mayhem.

“They plundered the state armoury, set entire markets on fire and looted their goods,” Mr Rahman says.  “They shot everyone who couldn’t recite the kalima – the Arabic-language Muslim declaration of faith. Many non-Muslim women were enslaved, while many others jumped in the river to escape capture.”  The streets were littered with signs of mayhem – broken buildings, broken shop furniture, the ashes of burnt goods and dead bodies, including those of tribal fighters, state soldiers and local men and women. There were also bodies floating in the river. Gohar Rahman to BBC

Nuns and nurses at the  St Joseph’s Hospital in the Baramulla area were raped and killed.  Looting, rapes, killing and vandalizing of shrines and temples continued for several days.  A local cinema house was set up as a “Rape Center”.

Kashmir – the Case for Freedom by Tariq Ali

The attack on Kashmir by Pakistan was spearheaded by the Pakistani Army (Brig Akbar Khan leading), Tribals and Furqan Battalion of the Ahmadis 9as boasted by the Ahmadis themselves).  They indulged, facilitated and orchestrated the plunder, rape, enslavement of women and killings in Kashmir in 1948.

Yes, Ahmadis are being persecuted in Pakistan.  But they are being persecuted based on the laws and Constitution that they themselves spearheaded.  When they could, they were at the forefront of the persecution of non-Muslims themselves.

So, their case is akin to a man who had done everything to kill you while driving you out of your house, and then comes crying to you that he is being beaten by his siblings now that they have control of your house fully!

Ahmadis fought for Pakistan as a home for Muslims.  They got it.  And they wanted to ensure that this home was structured for persecution of the non-Muslims via the Objectives resolution.  For them to come asking for asylum to India because of persecution in the very system they created is kind of rich.

Non-Muslims – the persecuted in Islamic States of South Asia

The 8th Constitutional Amendment in Bangladesh established the nation as an Islamic State with Islam as the state religion in 1988.  Much of the persecution and killings of liberal bloggers, academics and religious minorities have happened as a result of increasing Islamization of Bangladeshi society.

As for Pakistan, its Constitution adopted in 1956 established it as an Islamic State.  In 1973, Pakistan’s new constitution established Quran and Sunnah to be the basis for all laws which had to conform to the injunctions of Islam as laid down in those books.

The persecution of non-Muslims that we have just shared above is a direct result of how the polity and society of these nations have been structured around their Islamic religious identities.

The only option for the millions of persecuted non-Muslims in South Asia is India.  In a neighborhood that is decidedly Islamic theocracies feigning as democracies, Muslims are the persecuting force. And they have been persecuting the non-Muslims who have no option.

The crisis of persecution and genocide in South Asia is for non-Muslims, not the Muslims who have expressly established their societies for their own religious purposes.

It is this basic Human rights threat that the Indian Citizenship Bill addresses.

For some to claim that it is discrimintory to Muslims because it does not recognize them as the persecuted in Islamic states of Pakistan and Bangladesh runs counter to every common sense logic.  Muslims in Pakistan and Bangladesh are the persecuting force.  For any of them to claim persecution to migrate to India is the height of hypocrisy.  The goal of any of the Muslims from the Islamic states in South Asia to come to India is to free-load onto the country’s resources while not abandoning their fanatic ideological agenda they have already pursued and established in their homelands.

It has nothing to do with Human Rights.

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