Citizen Mr. India
Abracadabra By K. B. Ganapathy, Columns

Citizen Mr. India

December 13, 2019

Rajya Sabha on Wednesday, Dec. 11, 2019, passed the contentious Citizenship Amendment Bill. I was listening to the proceedings till it was put to vote. My interest was specially in listening to P. Chidambaram, who was there fresh from Tihar Jail and Kapil Sibal, the legal eagle of the Congress party. Due to a diversion, I missed out listening to Kapil Sibal who, in any case, did not say anything strong enough to dismantle the amendment from what I read in the newspapers. 

As for Chidambaram, it was a laboured response to Home Minister Amit Shah’s detailed and persuasive exposition of an important and urgent humanitarian amendment to the Indian Citizenship Act of 1955.

As if these two gentlemen had a premonition of what would happen if the Citizenship Amendment Bill (CAB) was passed, they spoke of the inevitability of the Bill landing in the Supreme Court questioning its Constitutional validity.

Incidentally, this was not for the first time the Citizenship Act of 1955 was amended. For reasons of expediency it was earlier amended too. Anyway, the good news for the religious minorities who have migrated to India is it was passed with 125 members for and 105 against. 

After I shut the TV and moved out for a small walk, I began to reflect on many historical events, specially the arrivals of the invaders from outside our country, Hindustan, where Hindu rulers held the sway. Some came as invaders and defeated the local rulers, while others came as traders and exploited the wealth of the country. According to history, India was of great attraction to foreign invaders and traders and seems to be so even today for persecuted minorities. After all, Hindus believe in the ideal of Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam ! 

It is surprising and inexplicable that despite the partition of India of the British Raj (Akhand Bharat) between the Hindu majority and the Muslim minority at the demand of the Muslims, the attraction to truncated India from the persecuted religious minority seems to persist. I remember to have read that about 616 Pakistan Muslims were given citizenship of Hindu majority India! But “Pakistan’s policy was not to have any non-Muslims back”! [see last column]

Incidentally, the word ‘Pak’ means ‘Pure,’ and ‘istan’ means ‘Land.’ But now the whole world knows how pure it is.

In retrospect, anyone reading history of the partition would know there was no proper planning in demarcating the borders in a humanitarian and viable manner. The partition was conceived based on the idea that the Muslim majority areas should be given to the Muslims of India. That was how half of Punjab and North-West Frontier Province (NWFP) became Pakistan to  the West of India, while in the East of India West Pakistan was created out of Bengal as East Pakistan. Now known as Bangladesh after it separated from Pakistan in 1971.

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Not surprisingly, both Pakistan and Bangladesh are Islamic Republics free from the ideal of Secularism. And Hindu majority India, not surprisingly, is shining as a Secular country of equal opportunity to both its Hindu majority and other minorities, namely Muslims, Sikhs, Buddhists, Jains, Christians, Parsis and whoever is in the minority group.

One imagined that after partition, the Hindu-Muslim problem would be solved and there would be peace. Unfortunately it did not happen. 

The Bill provides for Indian citizenship to non-Muslims who fled due to religious, political or economic persecution from Pakistan, Bangladesh and Afghanistan and entered India before 2015. Now that the Bill is passed, all the illegal migrants, except Muslims will get Indian Citizenship. Minority communities like Hindus, Sikhs, Jains, Parsis, Buddhists and Christians coming from the Islamic countries namely Afghanistan, Pakistan and Bangladesh will be eligible for Indian citizenship. 

Curiously, our Opposition leaders are demanding that illegal immigrants belonging to Muslim community too should be included and not excluded. The consequence of accepting the demand of the Opposition would be anybody’s guess. Of course, the Opposition parties who hope to benefit from the Muslim Vote Bank may be ignoring the consequence to the country. I do not know. In fact, it might even mean the defeat of the very purpose of partitioning India between Muslims and non-Muslims. 

Now the question is: Was the partition of India on the basis of religion a mistake? 

If it was a mistake, then did our leaders of that time make a second mistake by not prescribing a sovereign remedy for securing peace and homogeneity by arranging for a total exchange of population, Hindus from Pakistan and Muslims from Hindustan? This was the prescription mentioned in Dr. B.R. Ambedkar’s book “Thoughts on Pakistan” published in 1940. There is before us a very good example of securing peace and homogeneity by arranging for a total exchange of population like it was done in Turkey, Greece and Bulgaria to solve their internecine wars. In Indian context we might say we could have solved the endemic communal riots. 

Be that as it may, from the humanitarian point of view, we must consider every human being,  no matter to which religion he belongs, as a divine creation. It is the same God who created the Hindu also created a Muslim, a Christian, a Buddhist, a Sikh, a Jain and a Parsi. Then why minorities in the Islamic republics like Pakistan, Bangladesh and Afghanistan are persecuted? Who will make their political and religious leaders understand this universal truth? This is my despair. Why not our Opposition leaders persuade these Islamic countries to make their country Secular like India?

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I have read in books and newspapers that many minority people from Muslim majority, theocratic countries, would love to get back to their roots — the town, city or village from where they were uprooted — if they are given a chance.

I was reading the autobiography of Kuldip Nayar, India’s well-known journalist, a former Member of the Parliament who was Indian High Commissioner to the UK during V.P. Singh’s Government. During Emergency he went to Jail. He was born in Sialkot (now in Pakistan) and educated at Lahore, also now in Pakistan. He later migrated to India with his parents and siblings, miraculously escaping from being killed. It is impossible for those who never faced such situations to imagine a real life situation like that.

My heart goes out to all those who were killed and to all those who are even today persecuted for religious reasons in Pakistan. The desire to get back to one’s birth place, the pull of the umbilical cord, is so strong that I have seen this when Field Marshal K.M. Cariappa, having spent more than 45 years outside Kodagu, coming back to Kodagu after retirement. There are many examples of this kind. 

But, let me mention here about Kuldip Nayar’s father,   Dr. Gurbaksh Singh Nayar who, sometime after partition, living in India with his children, was still longing to return to Sialkot. 

In his autobiography, Kuldip Nayar writes that he took his father to Fida Hussain, Chief Secretary of Pakistan’s Punjab, who was visiting Delhi on official work. Fida Hussain was once Deputy Commissioner at Sialkot and knew Kuldip Nayar’s father Dr. Gurbaksh Singh Nayar who had been his family physician at that time. 

When the subject matter of the meeting was broached, Fida Hussain was very frank and told him that “Pakistan’s policy was not to have any non-Muslims back.” That ended the matter. Kuldip Nayar’s father’s dream was shattered as he realised that there was no chance for him to go back to his birth place.

Kuldip Nayar writes in a very poignant manner, “Neither my father nor my mother were the same after having lost their home in Sialkot. They felt their life ended when they left their home.”

Well, should this happen because of a religion or religions? Is our religion bereft of humanity? A complex and inscrutable question. A Yaksha Prashna that even Dharmaraya may  not be able to answer.

Jai Hind 

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12 COMMENTS ON THIS POST To “Citizen Mr. India”

  1. boregowda says:

    An excellent and timely article. Congress party still relies on muslim votebank for its survival. No wonder they are fighting tooth and nail against this pragmatic policy. While rest of the world is trying to stave of illegal immigration, why should India with its limited resources be any different?

  2. Mohammed says:

    A startling 5,00,000 Muslims were martyred following the events of 1857,
    of which 5000 were Ulema (religious scholars).

    It is said that there was not a single tree on the Grand Trunk Road from Delhi to Calcutta but that an alims body was not found hanging on it for days together!

    It was Emperor Aurangzeb who first asked the East India Company to quit India in 1686 Surat!

    The first war against the British was fought almost 200 years before independence The Battle of Plassey, wherein Nawab Sirajuddawla of Bengal was treacherously defeated by the British in 1757!

    The first signs of victory against the British were seen in Mysore where Nawab Hyder Ali first waged war against the British in 1782. He was succeeded by his son, Tipu Sultan who again fought them in 1791 and was eventually treacherously defeated and martyred in 1799. Tipu Sultan was the first General to use missiles in warfare!

    The Mujahid Movement was active during 1824 and 1831 under the leadership of Syed Ahmad Shaheed and his two disciples and they were successful in liberating the North-west province from British authority. Syed Ahmad Shaheed was nominated Khalifa, but the freedom was short lived and he was martyred in 1831!

    The last Mughal Emperor, Bahadur Shah Zafar was to lead the War of Independence in 1857. A country-wide war was to begin simultaneously on the 31st of May 1857, but the Indians among the British army revolted before that on the 10th of May 1857!

    A startling 5,00,000 Muslims were martyred following the events of 1857, of which 5000 were Ulema (religious scholars). It is said that there was not a single tree on the Grand Trunk Road from Delhi to Calcutta but that an alims body was not found hanging on it for days together!

    Indian Ulema called for Jihad against the British and declared India as Darul Harb (Territory under Enemy control). This call found resonance all over the country with Muslims rising up against the British!

    To liberate the countrymen from the Cultural and Educational bondages of the colonial empire, towering centres of learning like the Darul Uloom Deoband, Darul Uloom Nadwa and the Aligarh Muslim University were established in the late 19th Century, which are still counted amongst the leading Indian seminaries!

    The Reshmi Rumaal Tehreeq was launched in 1905 by Shaikhul Islam Maulana Mehmood Hasan and Maulana Ubaidullah Sindhi to unite all the Indian states against the British. Maulana Mehmood was imprisoned in Malta and Kalapani for the same where he breathed his last!

    The Indian National Congress, from the time of its inception to independence has seen 9 Presidents who were Muslims!

    Barrister M. K. Gandhi served in a law firm in South Africa owned by a Muslim, who on his own expenses brought Gandhiji to India in 1916. Here, he started his agitation under the Ali Biradran (Ali Brothers)!

    The Mopla movement saw 3000 Muslims being martyred in a single battle!

    The Non-cooperation Movement and the Swadeshi Movement saw overwhelming Muslim participation. Janab Sabusiddiq who was the Sugar-king of that time gave up his business as a form of boycott. The Khoja and Memon communities owned the biggest business houses of that time and they parted with their treasured industries to support the boycott!

    The 1942 Quit India movement was actually planned by Maulana Abul Kalam Azad. He was imprisoned on the 8th of August and sent to Ahmadnagar, because of which Gandhiji had to lead the movement on the 9th of August!

    Jyotiba Phule was sponsored by his neighbour, Usman Bagban in his educational activities, so much so that the school in which he taught was owned by Mr. Usman. His daughter, Fatima was the first girl student there and joined as a teacher thereafter!

    Muslim leaders always supported the Dalit cause. In the Round Table Conference held in London, Maulana Muhammad Ali Johar was lured into abandoning the Dalit cause in lieu of accepting all the other demands of the Muslims. But Maulana Johar refused to forsake the Dalits!

    When Dr. B.R. Ambedkar could not win the 1946 Central Elections, the Bengal Muslim League vacated one of its own seats and offered it to Dr. Ambedkar, who won it in the bypoll. This gesture by the Muslim League paved the way for his entry into the Constituent Assembly and the rest as they say, is history!

    Muslims freedom fighters were active in the field of journalism as well. Maulana Azad used his pen against the British despite being prevented by the colonial powers a number of times. In fact, the first journalist to be martyred in the cause of Indias Freedom Struggle was also a Muslim- Maulana Baqar Ali.

  3. Srikrishna Bhagwan says:

    @MohammedSaab , while the details of the battles you have listed are more or less accurate these were not fought to liberate India from Britishers. Most of them were fought to save their own kingdoms. There was no concept of India in those days and it was every king for himself concept. All they cared was saving their own behind. Only in late 19th century and beginning of 20th Century the real struggle for independence started which resulted in 3 countries. 2 of them were based on the religion and one based on inclusiveness.

  4. Khan says:

    @Srikrishna, Lets take Mysore example for easy explanation – Tipu Sultan could have saved his kingdom like Marathas, Nizams or wadeyars by working out a deal with britishers. but he stood for the inclusive culture. Indian muslims rejected the concept of Pakistan and chose to stay with India as a secular country. Post independence resulted in 2 countries only, 3rd country (Bangladesh) was liberated based on nationalism with SECULAR India’s help. Putting the facts straight.

  5. A Heart says:

    Well written article. Muslims need to understand that they did not fall from sky directly to India. Their ancestor’s who were Hindus were forcibly converted to Islam during the demonic rule of Mughals. All said and done in India, Muslims and Hindus have no other alternative other than to live in harmony. An individual would still be living in a fool’s paradise if he/she thinks that their religion is superior to another. Muslims need to understand to accept that they have Hindu ancestry period!!

  6. Srikrishna Bhagwan says:

    @KhanSaab , Tipu Sultan might not have aligned with other rulers of that time that is not to say that he was trying to liberate India. Remember he aligned with French who at that time were fighting Britishers. His inclusive culture can be debated and no body will come out as victors since there are enough evidence to support and disprove. The only way is to time travel and see it for ourselves which is impossible. The only thing we can do is to work hard make the current India great for all communities. You are right about Bangladesh being liberated in 1971 which proved that Jinnah’s theory that Islam is a nation by itself and cannot live with other community as false. Humans are imperfect and we find some reason to discriminate the reason why Bengalis Muslims living in East Pakistan decided to have their own country when they were discriminated by leaders from West Pakistan. Not all Indian Muslims rejected the idea of Pakistan. Many of them (millions) decided to migrate and made Pakistan as their home. But many of them decided to stay and made India great with their diverse food,culture and talents.

  7. Tausif says:

    This article supports anti constitutional amendment.
    It is normal to term Anti-national or Anti-India to those supporting this CAA.
    So choose your side carefully.

  8. Tausif says:

    CAA is Anti-Constitutional.
    Those supporting CAA are Anti-nationals.
    When India was being divided on religious line more than half of Muslims stayed with India based on assurance from Gandhi and Secular constitution drafted by Dr.Ambedkar.
    Now when Laws are amended against constitution we have no other choice to come to street to save India and its constitution.

  9. Bharath says:

    Am still trying to Understand……

    1) Moghuls became Indians and Indians became Kafirs.
    2) Nehru-Khan-Maino became Gandhis and Indians became fools.
    3) Invaders became Kashmiris and Kashmiri Pandits became refugees.
    4) Bangladeshis became Bengalis and Bengalis couldn’t celebrate Durga Puja in soon to become West Bangladesh
    5) Those who are intolerant of Hindus became Secular and the real secular people became Sanghi terrorists.
    6) The Maoists and UrbanNaxals became Intellectuals and the Intellectuals became Bakhts.
    7) Terrorists became ‘sons-of-poor-headmasters’ who killed/beheaded army men and the army men became human rights violators who used guns on these peaceful terrorists.
    😎 The wood used for Asthi became an environmental concern while the land used for burials became secular birth rights.
    9) The wool used in Rakhi during Rakshabandan hurt sheep but thousands of goats slaughtered in the most cruel manner during Bakri Eid became religious freedom.
    10) Appeasement became secular while Equality became Communal.
    11) RSS org. became terrorists but Hafiz Saheb and Hurriyat netas became pinnacles of nationalism and peace.
    12) Bharat Mata Ki Jai became communal while Bharat Tere Tukde Honge was called “Freedom Of Expression.”
    13) Divide And Rule became inclusive and Sabka Saath Sabka Vikas became division.
    A very dangerous situation is being created in the country by the so called secular people, without realising the poisonous end it is creating~ & We are still sleeping 😞

  10. Joseph says:

    If CAB is unconstitutional, or discriminatory supreme court can figure out without the commentators of SOM. They are competent enough! Burning the public property is not needed!
    After all what are the protesters want ? There are 3 alternatives 1. Do nothing and all the Hindus, Sikhs, Christians and Parseees stay in India with no status! 2, let Pakistanis who are not happy with Pakistani government give then Indian citizenship! Extend to other countries as well! This is like opening our borders! 3. Protect those who were persecuted bases on religion by our bordering countries! A Muslim can’t claim he was religiously persecuted by Pak! That means they are not practicing Islam!
    If you think you have to fix worlds poverty problem by letting everybody enter India, then you can set fire to India and get it over with once for all instead of doing it in installments!

  11. Vipra says:

    Hindu nationalists are the ones who want turn the clock back to 100 year, oppressing other Hindus in the name of religion. They want to use religion a backdoor to enforce their hegemony .

  12. Vipra says:

    The oppressed castes in the Hindu religion must see through the game . Upper castes pretend they love them not really. They are being used !
    Do not fall for this trap . I would rather be secular person than a Bhakt whose only goal is hegemony over other castes


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