Who is the hollow CAA really meant to protect?

Synopsis: The CAA was never meant to help asylum seekers and protect persecuted people.

Introduction

The government evacuated many of its citizens and Afghan nationals from the Hindu and Sikh minorities after the Taliban takeover. But these people would not be given Indian nationality under Citizenship Amendment Act because of the provisions mentioned in it. It provides citizenship only for those who have been in India since before December 2014.

How Indian refugee policy is handled?

India had hosted several refugees in the past like Tibetans, Tamil refugees from Sri Lanka, persecuted Chin and Afghan refugees and the minority Chakmas from the Chittagong Hill Tracts (CHT). India also had received worldwide admiration for refugees who fled from then East Pakistan in 1970-71.

But still, India doesn’t have any refugee-specific legislation. It is conditioned by ad hoc policies adopted by the government to deal with specific circumstances.

How persecution (under the CAA) definition is different from United Nations?

United Nations Convention on the Status of Refugees, 1951: Under Article 1A (2), it defines a refugee as ‘people who are unable to avail the protection of their state and are forced to flee outside their country due to “fear of persecution” based on their “race, religion, nationality, membership of a particular social group or political opinion”. It adopts a non-discriminatory approach.

India: It is discriminatory and adopts a narrow interpretation of persecution. It gives protection to persecuted minority communities — Hindus, Buddhists, Christians, Sikhs, Jains and Parsis — from Bangladesh, Pakistan and Afghanistan and not to the Muslims.

The government gave the reason that since the three countries named are dominated by Muslims, it would not be necessary to consider Muslims as being persecuted in these countries.

What is the intention of CAA?

The intention of the citizenship amendment act is to confirm citizenship. It is not meant to provide protection for Asylum to the people belonging to other countries.  This was evident when the government did not grant Asylum to Rohingyas from Myanmar or Hazara from Afghanistan.

This does not mean that they can not seek protection in India. They are governed by many laws and can seek visas in India and apply for citizenship in due course.

Source: This post is based on the article “Who is the hollow CAA really meant to protect? published in the Indian Express on 20th September 2021.

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