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AMAN HASAN KUMAR | 15 MARCH, 2020

Delhi Joins 19 State Governments Opposed to CAA/NPR/NRC

‘It aims to exclude a specific religion. This is incorrect. We will not agree’


NEW DELHI: The state legislative assembly on Friday passed a government resolution asking the centre “earnestly” not to perform the proposed National Population Register and National Register of Citizens exercise.

“Should the Government of India insist on going ahead,” it should use the 2010 format of the NPR with no new questions added, the resolution reportedly states. The controversial new questions are said to include: voter ID number, driver’s license number, Aadhar number, and parents’ places and dates of birth.

The resolution was moved in a special session by cabinet minister Gopal Rai, MLA from Babarpur in northeast Delhi, who said the experience of Assam (where lakhs of Hindus and Muslims were excluded from the unhappy register) showed that the NPR and NRC have nothing to do with religion.

Rai reportedly told the assembly that in 2003 the Vajpayee government enacted new rules governing the implementation of the Citizenship Act, specifying that NPR data would be collated with the NRC.

Union home minister Amit “Shah also said the government has merely been following the 2003 rules. And the rules say that NRC data will be based on NPR. Have the 2003 rules been amended? If not, NRC will naturally follow NPR. Each and every individual is tense about these issues,” Rai reportedly said.

On the CAA, chief minister Arvind Kejriwal reportedly told the assembly that “Hindus from our country will be forced to say that they are Pakistanis. We cannot say that. We are patriots. We will die but we cannot say we are Pakistani.”

Days after Parliament passed the act last December, the chief ministers of West Bengal, Punjab and Kerala came out strongly against the new citizenship proposals.

Senior advocate Sanjay Hegde told the Citizen then that a state government could “administratively block” the NRC or NPR, as the “enumerators will be state government employees… Although the powers are with the centre, they are effectively carried out by the states. If the state’s administrative machinery were to refuse to cooperate, then it would be up to the centre to try and enforce its law.”

Soon, tens of lakhs of protestors had come out against the act and its concomitants nationwide. Many remain, at teach-ins and sit-ins and vigils dotted across the country’s nations.

In January, days after the centre notified the act, the government of Kerala filed suit against it in the Supreme Court, asking it to intervene, and not force it to comply with a CAA it reportedly called “manifestly arbitrary, unreasonable, irrational and violative of fundamental rights”.

The strength of popular opposition in the northeastern region, which saw the first and largest protests against the CAA in particular, makes it doubtful that the centre will find it easy going there even with its governments in the states, some of which have opposed both the CAA and NRC securing pledges or exemptions.

The NDA government in Bihar too is opposing the NRC and new NPR. The NDA government in Tamil Nadu announced yesterday it had put the NPR on hold, “as the centre had not responded to concerns over some new features”.

This leaves Uttar Pradesh, Gujarat, Karnataka, Himachal Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Haryana, and perhaps Madhya Pradesh and Goa, where the centre can rely on a cooperative and effective state government.

Governments and legislatures abroad, including the US State Department, Congresspersons and two-thirds of the European Parliament have strongly condemned the “discriminatory” CAA and NRC, police brutality against students and protestors and Muslims, and dozens of reported deaths in detention centres.

A fortnight ago, as we reported with excerpts, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights intervened in a writ petition challenging the CAA in the Supreme Court.

The Delhi Vidhan Sabha joins the following states in opposing the NRC, NPR or the Citizenship (Amendment) Act.

NDA governments

J&K and Ladakh – No local representation since June 2018.

Bihar – Last month the Bihar Assembly unanimously passed a resolution not to implement the NRC in the state, and create an NPR only in the 2010 format. Chief minister Nitish Kumar said the Supreme Court would decide whether the CAA is constitutional.

Sikkim – Chief minister Prem Singh Tamang of the Sikkim Krantikari Morcha has publicly stated his government’s opposition to the CAA. Citing Article 371F of the Constitution, which requires the Sikkim legislature’s concurrence on any central law, Tamang has said his government will not ask it to approve the CAA. In December he reportedly said that Amit Shah had already assured Parliament “that Sikkim will not be affected by the new citizenship law and NRC, and the people of Sikkim need not worry.”

Arunachal Pradesh – Chief minister Pema Khandu has repeatedly been stating that the Inner Line Permit regime of the Bengal Eastern Frontier Regulation of 1873 already exempts the state from the CAA, and restricts the entry of immigrants into the state.

Nagaland – Deputy chief minister Yanthungo Patton reportedly stated in a raucous assembly session last month, that “After looking into the entire ecosystem of protection provided by Article 371A and the ILP Regime of BEFR 1873, we were clear that the provisions of the proposed bill would not be applicable in the state”.

Manipur – Leading a pro-CAA rally in late December, chief minister Nongthombam Biren Singh told the media that “Manipur need not worry about CAA as the state has been protected by the ILP system.” He also reportedly urged the people to “shift focus” to the NRC, and to “show gratitude” to the BJP’s central leadership, which had fulfilled “the state’s long cherished dream of protecting its indigenous population”.

Mizoram – The governing Mizo National Front opposed the CAA until the centre assured it that the ILP regime would exempt Mizoram. In January newly elected BJP state president Vanlalhmuaka reportedly said that people should “thank God” that Mizoram had been exempted from the purview of the new citizenship law.

Tripura – Parties including the BJP-allied Indigenous People’s Front of Tripura have been protesting against the CAA and NRC in the state. A viral video clip from a press conference last December shows chief minister Biplab Kumar Deb saying, “If I implement it in my state… My relatives, my father came from Bangladesh. He has got his citizenship card… After that, I was born in Tripura. So, if anyone suffers a loss due to NRC, I shall lose my chief ministership first. Am I a fool that I shall implement NRC to lose CM-ship?”

Meghalaya – Most of the state is exempt under provisions of the Sixth Schedule. In December the legislature passed a resolution unanimously asking the centre to implement the ILP in the state. Chief minister Conrad Sangma has yet to receive this decision, or even an assurance, from the centre. Recent daylight stabbings allegedly by Khasi mobs of eight “non-tribals” in Shillong show how the faultlines continue to grow.

Opposition governments

Kerala – The assembly passed a resolution against the CAA back in December. Chief minister Pinarayi Vijayan moved the resolution and leader of the opposition Ramesh Chennithala seconded it, with both reportedly describing the CAA as an attempt to make India a religious nation. Vijayan further said that implementing the act would lead to religion-based discrimination in granting citizenship, which was against the secular values enshrined in the Constitution. A month later his government filed suit against the union.

Punjab – The state was second after Kerala to pass a resolution asking the centre to repeal the CAA. The Congress government was supported by AAP, and NDA constituent the Shiromani Akali Dal asked for an amendment to include Muslims in the CAA.

“The CAA enacted by Parliament has caused countrywide anguish and social unrest with widespread protests all over the country. The state of Punjab also witnessed protests against this legislation, which were peaceful and involved all segments of our society,” said cabinet minister Brahm Mohindra in a special session of the assembly.

Chief minister Amarinder Singh tweeted, ““I have sworn on the Constitution and I will continue to fulfil my duty as a loyal soldier. Sri Guru Nanak Dev Ji had said, ‘Na koi Hindu, Na Mussalman’ (no one is a Hindu or Muslim) and, it is in this spirit, Punjab Vidhan Sabha passed the resolution to appeal to central government to repeal CAA for India’s interest.”

Rajasthan – The state assembly was third to pass a resolution against the CAA. “It is evident that the CAA violates the provisions of the Constitution. Therefore, the House resolves to urge upon the government of India to repeal the CAA to avoid any discrimination on the basis of religion in granting citizenship and to ensure equality before law for all religious groups of India,” state parliamentary affairs minister Shanti Dhariwal reportedly said while moving the resolution.

Maharashtra – Back in December, NCP chief Sharad Pawar reportedly said that Maharashtra should refuse to implement the new citizenship law, which he feared would hurt religious and social harmony. By February, chief minister Uddhav Thackeray was saying that no one need fear the CAA or NRC. Earlier this month deputy chief minister Ajit Pawar reportedly told the assembly there was “no need” to pass a resolution against the proposals.

West Bengal – The assembly passed a government resolution in January against the CAA. Chief minister Mamata Banerjee, who has spearheaded several protests against the new law, reportedly told the assembly that “This protest is not only of minorities but of all. I thank my Hindu brothers for leading this protest from the forefront. In West Bengal, we will not allow CAA, NPR or NRC. We will fight peacefully.”

Jharkhand – Soon after winning in December, chief minister designate Hemant Soren told the press, “I have not gone through the NRC and CAB documents that the government of India wants to implement. Citizens are on the roads against these laws. We will go through it and if it uproots even one Jharkhandi from his or her home, then it won't be implemented.”

Chhattisgarh – The cabinet approved a resolution against the CAA in January which the assembly would likely have passed, but the budget session stands postponed. Chief minister Bhupesh Baghel reportedly described the law as “nothing but a ploy to divert people’s attention from the economic slowdown and unemployment in the country.” In February home minister Tamradhwaj Sahu told the press, “We have cleared our stand on several occasions – we oppose the National Population Register. The Chief Minister has said that he would be the first to sign against it.”

Odisha – Chief minister Navin Patnaik’s Biju Janata Dal supported the CAA in Parliament. He told the press in December that he would not support the centre’s plan to create a nationwide NRC.

Andhra Pradesh – “Some of the questions proposed in the NPR are causing insecurities in the minds of minorities of my state. After elaborate consultations with our party, we have decided to revert the conditions to those prevailing in 2010. To this effect we will also introduce a resolution in the upcoming Assembly session,” chief minister Jaganmohan Reddy tweeted on March 2. His party the YSRCP supported the CAA in Parliament.

Telangana – The assembly intends to pass a resolution opposing the CAA, NPR and NRC in its upcoming session. Last week, chief minister Kalvakuntla Chandrashekhar Rao reportedly asked the assembly, “When I myself don’t have a birth certificate, how can I produce the certificate of my father? Should I die then?”

“When I was born, we had 580 acres of land and a building. When I can’t produce my birth certificate, how will Dalits, STs and poor people produce their certificates? From where will they bring it? Why is this turmoil in the country?”

On the CAA Rao reportedly told the assembly, “This act aims to exclude a specific religion. This is incorrect. We will not agree… no civilised society will accept it.”

 

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