Simply, the citizenship amendment bill allows illegal migrants from Afghanistan, Pakistan and Bangladesh who are non-muslim to be Indian citizens.
Adding to the list of allies deserting the National Democratic Alliance is the coalition partner of BJP in one of the key north-eastern state: Assam Gana Parishad. On Tuesday, the party announced that it will no longer be a part of BJP-led NDA. Two days later, the ministers from the party also pulled out of the Assam Cabinet led by Chief Minister Sarbananda Sonwal. The ministers who reigned are Agriculture Minister Atul Bora who is also the AGP president, Water Resources Minister Keshav Mahanta and Food and Civil Supplies Minister Phanibhushan Choudhury. The three ministers submitted their resignations to the Assam Chief Minister at the state secretariat along with 11 other MLAs.
Assam Gana Parishad breaking ties is expected to be a major setback for the BJP in north-east especially at a time when the party is pushing the North East democratic Alliance for deeper penetration in the region. But why has the Assam Gan Parishad after giving a stable government for three years in Assam decided to sever ties with the BJP? The reason is the Citizenship Amendment Bill. the Bill was introduced by the Modi government in Lok Sabha in 2016. This new bill seeks to amend the original Citizenship Act of 1955. The Citizenship Amendment bill was passed in lok sabha in the recent winter session. Now, before moving on to what is it about the amendment bill that made Assam Gana Parishad leave BJP, let us see what exactly is the Citizenship Act.
This act describes and defines who are citizens of India and how can it be decided whether a person is a citizen of India or not. It also lays down the criteria one needs to fulfil in order to be an Indian citizen and under which circumstances the citizenship can be revoked.
The ambit of the act is wider, but we are focusing on the part which the government seeks to amend. which is citizenship by naturalisation. This part of the act deals with the citizenship of non-Indian person that comes with the time period he has spent in the country and the kind of service he has offered to the nation. The detailed description of the Citizenship act can be found on the Foreigners Division of Ministry of Home Affairs portal. In the same act, the schedule three provides criteria of eligibility for the citizenship by naturalization. There are total seven criteria for eligibility that one needs to fulfil in this case. For example, a person seeking citizenship in India should not belong to a country where Indians are not allowed to be a citizen by law or by culture. He should have renounced the citizenship of his country and has followed the legal procedure of the same and informed the country’s government about the same. he is of good character etc.
Further, the act states: That the person seeking citizenship has either resided in India or been in the service of a Government in India or partly the one and partly the other, throughout the period of twelve months immediately preceding the date of the application and That during the fourteen years] immediately preceding the said period of twelve months, he has either resided in India or been in the service of a Government in India, or partly the one and partly the other, for periods amounting in the aggregate to not less than eleven years].
Now the new bill amends the Citizenship Act, 1955 to make illegal migrants who are Hindus, Sikhs, Buddhists, Jains, Parsis and Christians from Afghanistan, Bangladesh and Pakistan, eligible for citizenship. Simply, illegal migrants from these three countries who are non-muslim can now be Indian citizens. The Citizenship Amendment Bill also relaxes the 11-year requirement mentioned in the original act to six years for non-muslim illegal migrants from these three countries. As the bill defines eligibility on the grounds of religion, The experts argue that this is in violation of Article 14 of the Indian constitution that guarantees right to equality.
The Illegal migrants may be imprisoned or deported under the Foreigners Act, 1946 and the Passport (Entry into India) Act, 1920. these two Acts empower the central government to regulate the entry, exit and residence of foreigners within India.
However, according to the PIB notification of September 7, 2015; the Indian government ordered that the members of the six religions mentioned above be exempted from the provisions of these two acts. The notification further states that the illegal migrants who are minorities from Pakistan and Bangladesh be who have entered India before or on December 31, 2014, are exempted from the acts.
Now, these are the two amendments that upset the Assam Gana Parishad. In Assam, too the bill is facing much resistance and causing a streak of protests as the state’s politics is based on Assamese sub-nationalism that takes pride in the region’s culture and language. The illegal migrants from Bangladesh whether Muslim and Non-muslim are viewed as outsiders to this culture. There is fear among the population that this Bengali-speaking illegal migrant if rises, can hurt the demographics of the state and can take over the linguistic and cultural identity. In terms of percentage, Assam has the country’s second highest Muslim population after Jammu & Kashmir. Muslims, mostly .. Bengali-speaking, comprise 34% of Assam’s little over 3 crore people. Assamese-speaking Muslims, who are minuscule in number support campaigns against migrants from all religious denominations.
Thus, there had also been the demand for an updated NRC in the state. The Assam Accord which was signed in 1985, had marked mid-night of 24th March 1971 as the cut-off date for granting citizenship to people who have come illegally to India from Bangladesh. It was decided that people who are originally Bangladeshi and have been staying in India illegally should be detected and deported to Bangladesh. Nearly 30 years later, a lot of key clauses are yet to be implemented by the government. This has been a major political issue in Assam. With the new Citizenship amendment bill amending the two key aspects of the Assam accord, there has been a state of discontent in Assam. Not only AGP that is opting out of the NDA, but more allied parties in the northeast may walk out of NDA over the same issue.
At a time when BJP’s longstanding alliance partners are deserting it, losing alliances in the northeast is definitely not a good sign for the party ahead of 2019.
Bhima Koregaon: How the case developed in last one year
In the aftermath of the Bhima-Koregaon violence, the political narrative shifted around the Dalit-Marathas equation in the state.
The 1st day of January marks the beginning of a new year and celebrations for everyone around the world, but for the Dalit community, the day also commemorates the battle of Bhima Koregaon, a significant event in the Dalit history that was unknown to the masses at large until last year. But before moving on to what happened last year, first, let us know why the battle of Bhima-Koregaon is so significant for the Dalit community.
Years later, it was Dalit revolutionary Dr Babasaheb Ambedkar who visited the pillar and paid tribute to the soldiers. In his view, this battle was a victory of Mahars over the Peshwas and their brahminical rule in which Dalits were tortured and discriminated. Since then the Bhima-Koregaon village sees Dalit communities gathering at the Vijay Stambh every year on January 1st.
Why the SC appointed AK Patnaik to head the investigation in Alok Verma case?
Justice Patnaik was a part of a two-judge bench formed in March 2016 for the 2G spectrum case.
The high voltage drama in India’s premier investigating agency Central Bureau of Agency got a sane turn with Supreme Court ordering a probe into the matter. The CBI bloodbath that happened post-midnight on Tuesday saw the two topmost officials being removed from their posts. The warring officers i.e. CBI Director Alok Verma and Special Director Rakesh Asthana were sent on “forced leave” while the entire team of officials probing corruption case against Asthana was transferred overnight. The breakneck reaction by the government thus raised questions whether there was any cover-up.
However, CBI Director Alok Verma moved to the Supreme Court challenging his removal and demanded an urgent hearing in the matter. The Supreme Court today took up the matter for hearing and ordered a probe into the matter under the supervision of retired Supreme Court Judge AK Patnaik. It has also ordered that the probe must be completed within 10 days and the report to be submitted to the apex court during the next hearing on November 12. The court has also prevented the interim director of the CBI Nageshwar Rao from taking important decisions in policy matters.
While there has been no immediate relief for Alok Verma, the silver lining is a probe has been initiated in the matter. What is more interesting is the retired Supreme Court judge AK Patnaik will be monitoring the probe.
Who is AK Patnaik?
AK Patnaik will be heading the committee investigating allegations of corruption against CBI chief Alok Verma. The former Supreme Court judge was born on June 3, 1949. He graduated in Political Science from Delhi University and studied Law from Cuttack. Patnaik became a member of the Odisha Bar Association in 1974. About 20 years after stepping in the law profession, he became an additional judge in Odisha High Court in 1994. However, he was soon sent to the Guwahati High Court where he became a permanent judge the very next year. He worked there for seven years before being sent to his home state in 2002.
Subsequently, in March 2005, Justice Patnaik was made the Chief Justice of Chhattisgarh High Court. In October the same year, he was appointed Chief Justice of Madhya Pradesh High Court. The then Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, Justice Ramesh Chandra Lahoti had praised his work as the Chief Justice of the Chhattisgarh High Court. In November 2009, he was made the judge of the Supreme Court. Five years later Justice Patnaik retired in June 2014. The most discussed case in Justice Patnaik is Justice Soumitra Sen’s case.
What is Soumitra Sen case?
Justice Soumitra Sen was charged with misappropriation of money and misrepresenting facts. Justice Patnaik was a part of the three-member committee of judges set up to investigate the allegations. In its report, this committee accused Justice Sen of “wrongful behaviour”. There were allegations on Sen of misusing nearly Rs 33 lakhs and being the court receiver when a legal case in dispute between the Steel Authority of India and the Shipping Authority of India was ongoing.
The Chief Justice of India and the Chairman of the Rajya Sabha had created committees to investigate the allegations. The committee reports said that Soumitra Sen was the first receiver when he was a lawyer and later as a judge. During his tenure as a judge, he continued withdrawing cash and issuing a check from the same bank account in which he had received money as a lawyer. After the report came out CPM leader Sitaram Yechury presented a proposal in the Rajya Sabha to remove Soumitra Sen. The proposal was passed by the Upper House with a majority.
It was for the first time in India’s history that such a resolution was passed against a High Court judge. This proposal was to be taken up by Lok Sabha, but before that, Soumitra Sen resigned.
2G, Spot Fixing case:
Though Soumitra Sen case was the highlight of the career of AK Patnaik, he has also handled other high stake cases including the 2G scam case which led the undoing of UPA government and Spot Fixing case. Justice Patnaik was a part of a two-judge bench formed in March 2016 for the 2G spectrum case. Apart from this, Justice Patnaik was also included in the Supreme Court bench that heard the plea demanding an alternate provision to NOTA and spot-fixing in the IPL.
After retirement, Justice Patnaik was proposed to be made the President of the Odisha State Human Rights Commission, but he refused. Justice Patnaik was also involved in a bench, which gave the verdict that if a legislator or MP is convicted in a criminal case, he/she will not be able to contest elections for six years.
Among the law fraternity, he is regarded as a judge with high integrity and stickler of discipline. This probably explains why CJI Ranjan Gogoi appointed him to head the investigation which will have a significant impact on the prestige of India’s premier investigative agency.
Who are the five people arrested in Bhima Koregaon violence case?
The trail leading to Bhima-Koregaon violence probe also revealed an alleged Maoist plot of Rajiv Gandhi-style assassination of PM Modi.
In a continuation of a crackdown on Elgar Parishad, a public meeting held at Pune a day prior to the Bhima-Koregaon violence that prompted the violent Maharashtra Bandh, the Pune police have arrested five activists on Tuesday. The police claimed that the five activists have a connection with the banned Communist Party of India (Maoist).
The five lawyers/activists namely, Sudha Bharadwaj, Arun Ferreira, Vernon Gonsalves, Gautam Navlakha and revolutionary writer P Varavara Rao were arrested in a trail of multi-city raids that began on Tuesday morning. These activists were taken into custody from Faridabad, Thane, Mumbai, Delhi and Hyderabad, respectively. The Joint CP of Pune Shivaji Bodhke said that the police have made the arrests on the basis of “incriminating evidence collected during the investigation and documents recovered from the five activists arrested on June 6.”
Post Bhima-Koregaon violence, the police action were prompted by two FIRs filed in January this year against Gujarat MLA Jignesh Mewani and Student Leader Umar Khalid and some other members for provocative statements at Elgar Parishad. According to the police, the statement made led to the incitement of violence. When the probe progressed, the police found that some of the members were in touch with the banned CPI(Maoist). This trail led to the June 6 raids and arrests of Sudhir Dhawale- editor of Marathi magazine ‘Vidrohi’ (rebel), Lawyer Surendra Gadling, Nagpur University Professor Shoma Sena, former PMRD fellow Mahesh Raut and Rona Wilson- allegedly a close aide of arrested JNU professor GN Saibaba. Currently, all the arrested are in Yerwada jail. The trail also revealed an alleged Maoist plot of Rajiv Gandhi-style assassination of PM Modi.
According to the police, the names of all the five arrested early Tuesday morning figured during the investigation of the above-arrested people. Here is the background of the arrested people.
A familiar face for the journalists, lawyers and activists who have worked in Chhattisgarh, Sudha Bharadwaj is a human rights lawyer. She has spent nearly 30 years in Chhattisgarh fighting the cases of Dalits, farmers, labourers and tribals against the land acquisition. Bharadwaj is also associated with the People’s Union of Civil Liberties (PUCL) as a national secretary. Apart from PUCL, she has been associated with Chhattisgarh Mukti Morcha, which advocated the protection of the cultural identity of the state and rights of workers and peasants.
However, recently she came under the fire allegedly for sympathizing with Maoists and their methods of violent insurgencies. There were claims that she allegedly received money from them. However, Bharadwaj has denied these allegations. Though, she has time and again said that she had appeared for Adivasis in fake encounter cases and cases against Human Rights activists, she has acted with professional integrity and courage.
Arun Ferreira was arrested from his Thane residence on Tuesday. A Mumbai based human rights activist-lawyer, Ferreira has been arrested before as well in connection with the Naxalites. In 2007, he was taken into custody on the charges of being a Naxal operative; which were dropped later and he was acquitted. As many as 11 cases were registered against him in the subsequent four years under the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act, the Arms Act and even sedition. After the acquittal in 2011, he was arrested again. However, he was granted bail soon.
After getting out of jail, Ferreira received his degree from Siddharth Law college and became a practising lawyer since December 2016. He also became a part of the ‘Indian Association of People’s Lawyer and the Committee for Protection of Democratic Rights.
Vernon Gonsalves was arrested from Mumbai. Before the arrest, he used to work as a professor of Business Organization at a prominent Mumbai College. The security agencies labelled him as an ex-central committee member and former secretary of Maharashtra State Rajya Committee of Naxalites outfits. He was arrested in 2007 but was convicted in June 2013 under various sections of Unlawful Activities (Preventions) Act and Arms Act. Though he was charged in 20 cases, he was declared not guilty in 17 cases as the prosecution couldn’t furnish any evidence against him.
However, as he had already served the prison period sentenced to him, he was released immediately.
Gautam Navlakha was arrested from Delhi. A very well-known journalist, Navlakha has also served as consultant editor at Economic and Political Weekly. Apart from journalism, he was involved in activism for the civil and human right. He was also actively involved with People’s Union for Democratic Right.
As a journalist and writer, he has visited the troubled state of Kashmir many times and written about the human right violation incidents. He was a convenor of International People’s Tribunal on Human Rights and Justice in Kashmir. He was charged with Section 144 for unlawful assembly with an intent to disrupt the peace.
P Varavara Rao:
P Varavara Rao was arrested from his Hyderabad Residence. The renowned poet, journalist, literary critic, and public speaker from Telangana is considered one of the best Marxist critics in Telugu literature. He founded Srujana (creation), a forum for modern literature in Telugu in 1966. He was one of the founders of Viplava Rachayitala Sangam (Revolutionary Writers’ Association), popularly known by its acronym Virasam. The Virasam allegedly supports and propagates Naxalite ideology and practice.
In 1973, he was arrested by the Andhra Pradesh police under the Maintenance of Internal Security Act (MISA). However, he was released after a month and a half. In 1974, he along with 41 others were arrested in a conspiracy case, known as Secunderabad Conspiracy Case. He was acquitted in February 1989, after 15 years of prolonged and tiresome trial. He was also arrested during the emergency.
In 2001, the then Communist Party of India (Marxist-Leninist) Peoples War announced the names of Varavara Rao and Gaddar as its emissaries to work out modalities for the proposed peace talks with Telugu Desam Party govt. in Andhra Pradesh.
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