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‘Govt Fact Sheet’ on CAA-NRC a Pathetic Attempt to Dispel ‘Myths’

This attempt to dispel ‘myths’ is pathetic, and not just because it comes from ‘sources’.

Updated
Opinion
4 min read
‘Govt Fact Sheet’ on CAA-NRC a Pathetic Attempt to Dispel ‘Myths’
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‘Government sources’ have released a purported fact sheet answering 13 frequently asked questions on the Citizenship (Amendment) Act to news agency ANI.

“Do not get misled, do not fall victim to misinformation. Here are the real facts on Citizenship Amendment Act,” the fact sheet proclaims.

This attempt to dispel the so-called ‘myths’ is pitiful, and not just because it comes from 'sources', is the second draft of this nonsense and refers to an annexure which isn't included.

Here’s why:

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Exclusion of Muslims Unaddressed

First, it fails to address the reason for excluding Muslims from the CAA's ambit. It brushes past this point without even offering the government’s line.

Second, it says NRC will not be used to exclude people of any religion. Nobody is making the argument that the NRC, in its very text or its own operation, excludes Muslims.

The argument is that the NRC will exclude many, and then the CAA will be able to save some, not all. This is a disingenuous question and answer – even Chetan Bhagat has understood this.

Third, the answer to question five says that, at the national level, no announcement has been made to officially begin the NRC process. However, this belies the fact that Home Minister Amit Shah has repeatedly said that the NRC will be be rolled out soon (“NRC Aane Wala Hai”).

Dangerously Ignorant Answers

Fourth, the answers to questions seven and eight, on what will be used to determine citizenship in NRC, are dangerously ignorant, if not outright lies.

  • Question 7

    Question 7

    (Photo: Altered by The Quint)

  • Question 8

    Question 8

    (Photo: Altered by The Quint)

In 2003, the Atal Bihari Vajpayee-led government amended the provisions on citizenship by birth in India. Now, you are only a citizen by birth automatically if you were born between 26 January 1950 and 30 June 1987.

  • If you were born between 1 July 1987 and 6 January 2004, then one of your parents has to be proved to be an Indian citizen.
  • If you were born on 7 January 2004 (when Citizenship Amendment Act 2003 commenced) or after, then you are a citizen of India only if both your parents were citizens, or one is and the other is NOT an illegal migrant at the time of your birth.
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As a result, if the rules under the Citizenship Act are followed, as this mythbusting document claims, then those born after 1987 will have to show documentation relating to their parents.

For those who are born after 7 January 2004, it's an incredibly unfair process and you can see how the CAA will directly come into play there, because it excludes non-Muslims from Pakistan, Afghanistan and Bangladesh from the ambit of the definition of illegal migrant.

And even if we assume for a moment that the government will relax the requirements and only require proof of birth in India, how on earth is that going to be any better? Even if we buy the claim that 90 percent of people in the country have Aadhaar, Aadhaar does not specify your place of birth.

Most people in India will not have a birth certificate. Even those who would be eligible for automatic citizenship by birth are unlikely to have documents to show this. Those who can't show citizenship by birth will have to then run from pillar to post to try and show it by naturalisation etc, which will be even more onerous.

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Practical Difficulties Remain

Fifth, the answers to questions 9 through 13 are again disingenuous.

  • Question 9

    Question 9

    (Photo: Altered by The Quint)

  • Question 10

    Question 10

    (Photo: Altered by The Quint)

  • Question 11

    Question 11

    (Photo: Altered by The Quint)

  • Question 12

    Question 12

    (Photo: Altered by The Quint)

  • Question 13

    Question 13

    (Photo: Altered by The Quint)

On paper, obviously, transgenders, women and those who are illiterate aren't going to be excluded. But the practical difficulties of proving their citizenship will remain, no matter how many ignorant, blithe documents like this get put out.

Even a small percentage of people having difficulties is huge in absolute numbers and a travesty of justice. Assam's NRC has proved just how difficult this process can be, and that was in a state where the idea of something like this had been around.

Can the government guarantee that, practically, people won’t be affected, as it claims in these answers? Of course it can’t.

It is because of all this that the CAA assumes importance, as it helps non-Muslims survive these certain pitfalls that the process will throw up. We're not fools. They need to realise that.

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Here is the entire document, as released to ANI:

Page one of the fact sheet.
(Photo: ANI/Twitter)
Page two of the fact sheet.
(Photo: ANI/Twitter)
Page three of the fact sheet.
(Photo: ANI/Twitter)
Page four of the fact sheet.
(Photo: ANI/Twitter)

(Produced by Viraj Gaur)

(At The Quint, we are answerable only to our audience. Play an active role in shaping our journalism by becoming a member. Because the truth is worth it.)

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