ISSN 2330-717X

India: Politically Motivated Stir Against Citizenship Amendment Act – OpEd


A few opposition political parties, motivated activists and students who are politicians in the making have launched agitation and protest against the Citizenship Amendment Act enacted by Modi government and approved by parliament.

Impressed by labored false interpretation and misleading propaganda by the critics and without understanding the issues involved in the Act, a few people have also voiced concern about the Citizenship Amendment Act.

Print and visual media in India, most of which are  owned or edited by political parties, business houses, religious institutions and motivated activists with pre conceived views, have been giving enormous publicity to the agitations. Such media  with sensational and mischievous headings have created an impression in India and abroad , as if India is on fire due to these agitations. Media’s projections make it look to people who do not understand the ground realities that India has become a restless country with a central government  having communal agenda.

By not providing an objective analysis of the situation and by not  publishing adequately the explanation given by the government and largely publishing views and articles decrying  Citizenship  Amendment Act, section of  Indian media is no more representing the views and thought process of cross section of Indians. It is extremely sad and distressing that  section of media publish only articles and  views reflecting the preference of the editors and owners. To this extent, a section of  Indian media  is doing great disservice to the cause of ethical journalism and Indian democracy.

A careful study  of Citizenship Amendment Act would clearly indicate that it is fair and blemishless and the criticism against it are totally unjustified.

What is the essence of the Indian Citizenship Act ?

The Act clearly says that citizens of Pakistan, Afghanistan and Bangladesh who do not belong to Muslim religion and who claim that  they have been persecuted on religious grounds and want asylum in India to save themselves from persecution, would be given Indian citizenship. Muslims have not been covered in this act , since Pakistan, Afghanistan and Bangladesh have  officially declared Islam as the religion of the country and do not make any claim on their commitment to secularism. Citizenship Amendment Act presumes that such Islamic countries will not persecute Muslims on religious grounds and therefore ,the Act has excluded Muslims from eligibility for citizenship in India .

Further, it should be noted that as per the existing law in India, anyone can apply for citizenship in India , whatever may be the religion that they belong to. Muslims are not excluded in this.

A false propaganda is made amongst  Muslims that Muslims living in India would be deported from India as per the Citizenship Amendment Act. This is absolutely false and Prime Minister Modi has categorically said that interests  of Muslims now living in India would be protected.

However, the false campaign against the Act is continuing largely with section of media support. It should also be noted that number of persons participating in such protests are very few considering the national population. Only a very few students have participated in the protest whereas more than 99% of the students in India are not participating. With technology so much developed , photographs can be taken in such a way that a crowd of one hundred people  can make it look like thousands.

For example, in Chennai a handful of women did kolam (sort of decoration made in front of houses and roads using chalk powder) decrying the citizenship Amendment Act. This became the focus of the national print and visual media with opposition political parties and motivated activists trying to call this event as reflecting public opinion.

It is sad that India is now becoming a victim of false campaigns which are  highlighted by  motivated media and biased activists who seem to be hate campaigners against Modi government.

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N. S. Venkataraman

N. S. Venkataraman is a trustee with the "Nandini Voice for the Deprived," a not-for-profit organization that aims to highlight the problems of downtrodden and deprived people and support their cause. To promote probity and ethical values in private and public life and to deliberate on socio-economic issues in a dispassionate and objective manner.

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