By Dr. Javed Jamil
The major argument in favour of Citizenship Amendment Bill (CAB) has been that those non-Muslims who faced “religious persecution” in Afghanistan, Pakistan and Bangladesh deserve to be given citizenship. What is interesting is that those who have never been tired of asking Muslims, “Are You Indian first or Muslim First?” are supporting the cause of those who have proved disloyal to their homelands on the ground of what they call religious persecution.
There is a long history of persecution of Muslims in India with thousands of riots. According to estimates, Muslims have been the major victim comprising 65-75 % of the dead, despite the fact that they form only 15 % of the population. The deadening memories of Gujarat Riots, Post Babri Masjid Demolition Riots and Hashimpura and Malliana riots are still fresh in memories. And of course, Sikhs too have been killed in thousands, the 1984 riots being one of the ugliest chapters in the history of Secular India.
In most of these riots, the police machinery has been partial in favour of the majority community. Not only riots, Muslims have almost been under threat for various reasons with their mosques and their personal laws regularly coming under threat. In recent past, they have faced Mob lynching in the name of cows. Their representation in all national institutions has been less than their percentage in population. There are many other discriminatory laws against Muslims and their religion in this country. Still, Muslims who decided to stay in India at the time of Partition have remained loyal to their homeland and have not moved out in any significant numbers. And come what may, whatever the plans of the forces of Hindutva or any other forces, they will never think of abandoning their homeland. They have preferred to fight for their rights within the country and will continue to do so.
I have never accepted Partition in my heart and I have never been an admirer of what has been happening in Pakistan since then. But this does not mean that facts can be or must be ignored. In contrast to what happened in India in terms of communal violence, the history of anti-Hindu riots in Pakistan (except what happened at Partition time) has not been as bad. Pakistan is more known for other forms of violence based on regions, sects and language rather than for any major anti-Hindu riots. It is being claimed that Pakistan had more than 23 pc Hindus at the time of Partition and has now only around 4 pc. This claim has been challenged by many based on the Pakistan census reports. Most of the Hindus migrated from Pakistan at the time of Partition or soon after that because they preferred to remain with their religious fellows. Conversion to Islam is a global phenomenon with Islam being the religion of choice for those who convert even in Western countries. But there is no significant international report on forced conversions in Pakistan. In Bangladesh too, there are only 1-2 instances of any significant rioting. Why did the minorities (most being Hindu) then choose to migrate to India instead of showing patriotism towards the land of their birth? Why did they not fight in their own countries against persecution if there was any?
Why should India not send them back and insist on Pakistan and Bangladesh to ensure their security and other rights. In fact, those Muslims who came to India need more attention because they might have thought in terms of a more secular environment. They will of course have a shock after CAB.
The passing of CAB is yet another feather in the cap of Hindutva Brigade in terms of its total commitment to sideline, marginalize, harass, deprive, trivialize, traumatize and delegitimize Muslim Community as much as possible.
The CAB will be challenged in the court. But the Supreme Court judgments in last few years (including its rulings on social issues), have shown that the Courts too cannot remain untouched by the campaigns of the forces of economics and politics. Let’s see if it can stem the tide this time.