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5 questions government must answer after implementing Citizenship Act

Citizenship Act is real. As of right now, every state has an obligation to implement it. But is the government ready to face the uncalled-for circumstances that might be created once the Act is implemented? Is the government ready to face the public backlash against the Bill as it stands? Here are some serious questions that the government must answer after the implementation of the Citizenship Act.

Sidhant Mamtany Edited by: Sidhant Mamtany @SidMamtany New Delhi Updated on: December 15, 2019 21:22 IST
5 questions government must answer after implementing

5 questions government must answer after implementing Citizenship Act

Narendra Modi-led BJP government, owing to their sizeable majority in the parliament, passed the Citizenship Amendment Bill in both the Lok Sabha and the Rajya Sabha. Amid massive protests by the Opposition, inside and outside the parliament, Union Home Minister Amit Shah led the debate on why the Indian government was giving citizenship to all the non-Muslim refugees from Pakistan, Afghanistan, and Bangladesh on the grounds of religious persecution. 

Since the Bill became an Act, North-East has been 'burning'. A series of protests has erupted all across the states, likely to be most affected by the new inflow of 'Indian citizens'. In Assam, the government has come down strong on the protesters, section 144 has been imposed and internet services throughout the state have been suspended. But while North-East will be the most affected region, it is not the only region protesting against this law. Delhi and West Bengal have also seen major protests against the Citizenship Act. There are also states that have outrightly rejected the bill and refused to implement it. 

Having said all that, Citizenship law is real, and all states must implement it. The question is, what is the government going to do about all the situations that rise up after the implementation of this act. Is the government adequately prepared to face any uncalled for situation that might come up in the times to come?

Here are a few questions that the Government must answer after he implements the Citizenship Act across India. 

1. What will happen to those refugees who will not get Indian citizenship and their parent countries refuse to take them back?

India Tv - 5 questions government must answer after implementing Citizenship Act

5 questions government must answer after implementing Citizenship Act

There are many refugees who will not get Indian citizenship under this new law. Some on the basis of religion while others on the basis of the countries they came from. Some of these refugees have been staying in India for decades. From Bangladeshi Muslims in the east to Sri Lankan Tamils in the south, there is a long list of refugees that will virtually be left 'state-less' after this new law. Their parent countries will not take them back and India will not make them citizens. So where will these people go? What is the government's plan for these people?

Former Finance Minister P Chidambaram, speaking to a media outlet, gave a detailed cost of keeping these illegal refugees in 'camps' (which ideally would not be something the Indian government will be willing to do). Given the costs the government will have to bear to keep these people in the country, is the government willing to do this at a time when the unemployment rate in the country is at its highest?

2. Will Assamese people become a minority in their own state?

India Tv - 5 questions government must answer after implementing Citizenship Act

5 questions government must answer after implementing Citizenship Act

Assam is one of the most widely affected states because of the inflow of refugees from Bangladesh. In 1985, after a long struggle against the changing demography in their state, the Assam accord was signed, giving the locals a comfort after which the borders between India and Bangladesh was drawn. However, Assam also has a large number of legal Indian Muslims. It is difficult to distinguish between illegal Bangladeshis and local Bengali speakers. In 1991, demography change in the state was visible in the figures. There have been several occasions where the Assamese struggles against the changing demography in their state have led to the deaths of several localites. 

The general consensus is, even if a fraction of total immigrants living in Assam is given Indian citizenship, the Assamese will become a minority in their own state. Is the Indian government ready to let the Assamese become a minority in the Brahmaputra valley and Guwahati?

3. How will the 'new' Indian citizens be settled across the country in a proportionate manner?

India Tv - 5 questions government must answer after implementing Citizenship Act

5 questions government must answer after implementing Citizenship Act

We know the struggles of the Assamese people against illegal immigrants. This could be the story anywhere. If there is a major inflow of Pakistani refugees in Rajasthan, the local Rajasthani people may be uncomfortable with the changing demography. Which means we need a well-drafted plan to have these new citizens settled across the country so that a single state doesn't have a lot on its hands with respect to the welfare of these refugees.

4. How will you conduct background checks ensuring absolute accuracy?

Indian security agencies have on several occasions pointed out that "Some Rohingyas sympathizing with many militant group's ideologies may be active in Jammu, Delhi, Hyderabad, and Mewat and can be a potential threat to internal security." How will the Indian government make sure that the background checks are sound and reliable? There are many, many examples of illegal refugees in the North East obtaining a fake ration card and a fake voter id card. Is our system ready for all this new paperwork?

If someone is staying in India for decades and claims that he/she was persecuted on the ground of religion before they came to India, is there any way for the Indian government to accurately verify the claims? How will the government decide the veracity of these claims? And if someone is willing to lie to get into our country, there is a possibility that they would lie about their intentions as well

These issues can turn into major security threat and can lead to rise in crime rate throughout the country. Who will then be responsible if that happens? 

5. How will these people be mainstreamed into the Indian setup?

When Germany got a major inflow of Syrian refugees, the European country made it a point that these people have jobs appropriate to their skillset, so that they can cater for themselves. Is the Indian government willing to make sure that these people work and not avail the benefits of being an Indian without adding any productive value to the Indian population? Will there be regular background checks on what these people are doing or will they be free from all scrutiny? Or are we moving towards a scenario where every refugee will be given citizenship irrespective of whether he/she adds productive value to the society or not?

These are some of the questions that the government face having already passed the Bill in Parliament. Indian's have historically been welcoming people and have always greeted outsiders with warmth. It is up to the Indian government to make sure that no one takes undue advantage of India's hospitality. Also, when an Indian citizen has reservations about something that the government has done, it is the government's duty to not only address those reservations but also to make sure that their decisions do not come at the cost of hurting sentiments of certain regional minorities.

Also Read | Congress stoking violence over amended Citizenship Act: Amit Shah

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