Actress Celine Jaitley Who Has Studied the Bill Minutely In Consulation with Lawyers. Tells Subhash K Jha Why She Supports The BJP Government’s Citizens’Amendment Act.
Celina, I believe you have studied the controversial CAA closely?
Yes I know what it is all about. In our country most protesters have jumped to conclusions due to political manipulations and causing unnecessary unrest within our country. My understanding of the whole situation is pretty pragmatic having consulted with various legal personalities, I Do not want to hurt anyones sentiments , for me humanity is above any religion, but I guess some clarity on the current situation is needed..
So tell me, Does the Citizenship Amendment Act 2019 affect existing Indian citizens Hindus, Muslims, anyone?
No. It has nothing to do with Indian citizens. It has to do with refugees who have come to India escaping religious persecution in Pak, Afghanistan and Bangladesh only.
To whom does it apply?
Only to Hindus, Sikhs, Jains, Buddhists & Christians from the above three countries – Islamic Republics – who are facing religious persecution AND who are already in India before 1st Dec 2014.
Which 3 countries?
Pakistan, Bangladesh and Afghanistan.
In what way does it benefit Hindus, Sikhs, Jains & Christians from these 3 countries?
Their residency requirement for permanent citizenship in India has now been reduced from 11 to 5 years. Thus they can claim citizenship as a right under this law. Unfortunately their major problem was that once these refugees reached India, they would continue to be looked at by the entire system including common citizens as ‘Pakis’ or ‘Bangladeshis’ etc!! They had to endure many challenges and officially no government support could be given to them.
Does this mean that Muslims from these 3 countries can never get Indian citizenship?
No it doesn’t. But they will go through the usual process of acquiring citizenship through the existing naturalization rules….11 years of residence etc.
Will illegal Muslim immigrants from these 3 countries be automatically deported under this bill?
No. For them the existing usual process applies. Their application for naturalization may or may not be granted depending on their eligibility.
Can Hindus facing persecution in any other country apply under this law?
No. It is limited to the above three countries.
Does this bill apply to other forms of persecution – Political, racial, sexual etc?
No. The bill is very specific in its intend – to provide relief to Hindus, Jains, Sikhs, Christians & Buddhists facing ‘religious persecution’ in these three countries.
Why only these 3 countries ? And why only religious persecution ?
These 3 countries – Islamic Republics – have a track record of pervasive, systematic and institutionalized persecution of religious minorities. At the time of Independence, approx 23% of population of Pak were minorities. Today it is less than 3%! The figures are self-explanatory.
What about Sri Lankan Tamils?
The war has been over for a decade now.In Sri Lanka there never was any persecution on religious lines. It was on racial lines. And over the decades of civil war the Sri Lankans have put an end to institutionalized discrimination of Tamils.
Doesn’t India have an obligation under the UN to take care of refugees?
Yes India does. And it is not shying away from it. But it has no obligation to offer citizenship. Each country has its own rules for naturalization. India is not going to turn away other refugees under this law. It will play host to them under UN rules, in the implicit expectation that some day they will return to their homelands when the conditions improve. But in the case of Hindus from these 3 countries, this law acknowledges the reality that the environment of persecution in these 3 countries is never going to improve.
Why shouldn’t Baluchis, Ahmediyas in Pakistan not be considered for this hospitality?
They are all Muslims in self-declared Islamic Republics. However, if these people come in as refugees, their case will be considered under the existing laws of migration and not under the special category. It may be known that a total of 546 Muslims of Pakistani origin were granted Indian citizenship since 2017!!!
Does any Indian Muslim lose his citizenship or become second class citizens?
No… Not at all. They continue to be valued citizens of India!!! In India we do not have a concept of different classes of citizens!
Then why so much of violence making the country suffer irrespective of consequences for common citizens?
Any nation pays the price for having foolish and opportunistic leaders who only seek to divide own citizens for narrow political brownie points!!! We’re suffering from the same. By the way. this bill was in the Parliamentary Standing Committee since 2015. It was cleared there after due alterations in Jan 2019.