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  Opinion   Edit  12 Dec 2019  On CAB, govt out of sync with mood of the nation

On CAB, govt out of sync with mood of the nation

Published : Dec 12, 2019, 1:23 am IST
Updated : Dec 12, 2019, 1:23 am IST

This part of the country has not seen such comprehensive people’s protests since the Assam agitation of the early eighties.

Union Home Minister Amit Shah (Photo: ANI)
 Union Home Minister Amit Shah (Photo: ANI)

The government used its crushing majority in the Lok Sabha on Monday night to steam-roller the revised Citizenship (Amendment) Bill, and is said to be using all powers of manipulation at its command — political and the rest — to ensure the passage of this dubious measure which strikes at the roots of our basic constitutional precepts and values in the Rajya Sabha. None of this appears to have cut any ice with the people, however. For the past three days they have been out on the streets venting their objection in the form of protests in different parts of the country.  

Northeastern India was in flames on Tuesday — in some ways resembling Kashmir before the military crackdown last August — only hours after Union home minister Amit Shah had pushed through the hotly contested bill in the Lower House.

On Wednesday, even as the measure was tabled in the Rajya Sabha, the Army had to be called out in Tripura although the Internet had to be shut down in the state with a view to preventing protests from spreading. Practically the whole of Assam, especially the populous Brahmaputra valley, appeared to be in flames. In this state, and in the Northeast as a whole, the people have become acutely conscious that the proposed CAB violates the Assam Accord of 1985.

The revised version of the CAB seeks to buy peace in the Northeast by exempting most states from the application of the proposed measure by bringing them within the category of the Inner Line Permit system or Sixth Schedule areas (in which tribal protections are offered). But this has not stopped these regions from being totally shut down in protest against CAB.

This part of the country has not seen such comprehensive people’s protests since the Assam agitation of the early eighties. With echoes of the protest reaching the streets of the national capital as well as several other major cities, it can be said without exaggeration that such wide-scale disturbances have not been seen since the days of the Ayodhya mosque demolition of December 1992.

In recent decades it is hard to recall any legislative measure being brought to Parliament amidst such tumult and public condemnation. The brute majority of the ruling party in the Lok Sabha was quite simply out of alignment with the mood of the nation on the important question of what should define the meaning of being a citizen of India.

It is, therefore, surprising that Prime Minister Narendra Modi, addressing the BJP parliamentary party on Wednesday, should say that the Opposition parties were speaking the language of Pakistan on the CAB. What would he call the protesters on the streets all over the country? The leader of the country was expected to speak the language of moderation that his home minister could not summon.

Hours after the Lok Sabha passed the CAB, in the United States, the House Foreign Affairs Committee — an influential bipartisan subset of the US Congress — has regretted that India was proposing to use the “religious test” in awarding citizenship. If the measure becomes law, it is likely to recommend to the US government to sanction the Union home minister and other high officials. This is a disgrace for India.

Tags: citizenship (amendment) bill, amit shah