‘North-East Economy Will Suffer If Citizenship Act Is Implemented’

Nicky Chandam, a 36-year old theatre artist from Manipur, believes the new Citizenship law will have a disastrous impact on the already-fragile economies of the Northeastern states

As a Manipuri who has been living in Delhi for many years now, I have experienced discrimination first hand. I would never even dream of having a bigoted view about people who have been displaced and seek shelter as refugees. However, one must realise how Northeastern states are demographically and economically different from other states in India. The economies of North-East is fragile because of continuous blockades etc. and the resource crunch has reached its limit.

Although I work in Delhi, it has been a few months that I have been in Imphal (Manipur) for family work. And what a tough time it has been! I am whole-heartedly participating in the protests against Citizenship Act because this will bring in lot of troubles for our already restive region. There is another reason for protest as I find this law openly discriminatory in nature and, as an artist who believes in a Utopian world, I cannot accept it.

However, help and shelter to refugees must not come at the cost of indigenous people. There needs to be a proper procedure in place to rehabilitate immigrants or refugees in such a manner that the native population doesn’t suffer tremendously.

In 2013, around three lakh people were said to have moved from various parts of the country to North-East. As per records, and the crime rates have also been reported as having gone up. This when the indigenous people are migrating from the region for better livelihood, which creates a demographic imbalance. The central government need to pull up their socks if they want the refugee/immigrants crisis to be truly solved.

We understand the pain of displaced people and refugees around the world. All we are saying is that we are against illegal immigrants. Rather than filtering out the illegal immigrants, this new law wants to straightaway give legality to everyone, except Muslims. We feel cheated by the current government.

As an artist I understand how effective and impactful art can be bringing about major changes. Last year I had organised a program where poetry was used as resistance. Artists need to speak up now against this unjustified law. As an artist, I believe in a world where one human being will love another.

The left worldview has had its day in politics across the world, and now it’s time for right wing politics. And when this reaches its crescendo, people will have no choice but to strike the middle path. The left thinks of others at the cost of oneself while the right wing thinks of oneself at the cost of others. Life, however, thrives in balance.

The current Finland Prime Minister, Sanna Marin (34), the youngest to hold the high office, and her cabinet of empowered women, many of whom are in their early thirties, give me hope that such a world is possible. Someday I hope India will rise like the Phoenix from the ashes of hatred and be happy once again.

(The narrator is the founder and managing director of the Octave Foundation, a cultural group that aims to tells stories from North-East through craft and arts)

Modi And Shah Press Briefing

Cabinet Okays Conduct Of Census 2021, Population Register

The Union Cabinet on Tuesday approved the conduct of Census of India 2021 and updating of National Population Register (NPR).

Briefing reporters about the decisions of cabinet, Information and Broadcasting Minister Prakash Javadekar said no document is being sought and the information will be self-declared.

“It is self-declaration, no document, no bio-metric is required for it,” he said.

He said cabinet has approved the expenditure of Rs 8,754.23 crore for Census of India 2021 and Rs. 3,941.35 crore for NPR.

He said census is held every 10 years and NPR was started during the UPA government.

The minister said people will not be required to fill forms and information will be gathered on a mobile app.

According to sources, NPR was discussed thoroughly at the cabinet meeting chaired by Prime Minister Narendra Modi. “It will be an extensive exercise this time”, the sources said.


Former Maruti MD Khattar Booked For Bank Loan Fraud

The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) has filed an FIR against Director of Carnation Auto India, Jagdish Khattar (former Maruti MD) and the said company(Carnation Auto India) and other unknown private persons under alleged criminal breach of trust, cheating and criminal misconduct.

The FIR mentions a written complaint dated October 17, 2019, by K. N. Bhardwaj, Chief Manager, Punjab National India, Large Corporate Branch, Tolstoy House, New Delhi.

“It is alleged in the complaint that the accused borrower company with Jagdish Khattar, MD/Chairman/Guarantor and its sister concern namely M/s Khattar Auto India Pvt Ltd, M/s Carnation Realty Pvt Ltd. and M/s Carnation Insurance Broking Company Pvt. Ltd., who are also guarantors applied for the Term Loan of Rs. 170 Crores which was sanctioned by PNB, LCB, Tolstoy House, New Delhi on May 23, 2009, and thereafter further enhanced by Rs. 10 Crores at the request of the accused borrower, however, subsequently restricted to Rs. 110 Crores,” the FIR says.

“Jagdish Khattar, MD of M/s Carnation Auto India Pvt Ltd in criminal conspiracy with unknown public servants of PNB has cheated the bank of the said amount of Rs 110 Crores (approx), as the same has not been repaid and declared as NPA on September 30, 2015 w.e.f June 30, 2012,” the FIR added.

The FIR further claimed the accused borrowers “dishonestly and fraudulently in order to cheat the bank and sold the goods hypothecated to the bank without its permission and diverted the funds thereby causing a criminal breach of trust and cheating causing wrongful loss to the bank and corresponding gain to themselves.”


Bose Kin, BJP Leader Seeks Muslims’ Inclusion In CAA

Hours after BJP working president Jagat Prakash Nadda took out a march in Kolkata in support of the newly-enacted Citizenship law, the party’s West Bengal vice president Chandra Kumar Bose has raised his voice against the Act and said India is a country “open to all religions and communities”.

“If #CAA2019 is not related to any religion why are we stating – Hindu, Sikh, Boudha, Christians, Parsis & Jains only! Why not include #Muslims as well? Let’s be transparent,” Bose tweeted.

“Don’t equate India or compare it with any other nation – as it’s a nation Open to all religions and communities,” he said in another tweet.

The comment by Bose, a grandnephew of Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose, has come even as BJP has launched a massive public awareness campaign on social media and through its cadres to reach out to the Muslim community and dispel their doubts on the issue.

Earlier, BJP-ally Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) had demanded that Muslims should also be included in the CAA in sync with the democratic and secular principles of the country.

The Citizenship (Amendment) Act, 2019, grants citizenship to Hindus, Sikhs, Jains, Parsis, Buddhists and Christians fleeing religious persecution from Pakistan, Afghanistan and Bangladesh and came to India on or before December 31, 2014.


Rahul Priyanka Road Show

Rahul Barred From Meeting Kin Of Dead CAA Protester

Congress leaders Rahul Gandhi and Priyanka Gandhi Vadra were stopped from entering Meerut on Tuesday to meet families of those killed in violent protests against the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA).

The leaders, also siblings, were stopped by the UP Police outside the limits of Meerut after which they decided to head back to the national capital.

In the violent protests which erupted in Meerut last week, two persons were killed and a police post was set on fire.

In a bid to nab those who led the violence in the city during a protest against the newly-enacted citizenship law, Uttar Pradesh police on Monday issued posters with pictures of the rioters.

The posters of “wanted rioters” also said that people who provide information that will lead to their arrests will be rewarded.

Protests have erupted in several parts of the country, including Uttar Pradesh, over the newly-enacted citizenship law, which grants citizenship to Hindus, Sikhs, Jains, Parsis, Buddhists, and Christians fleeing religious persecution from Pakistan, Afghanistan, and Bangladesh who came to India on or before December 31, 2014. (ANI)

JMM-Cong-RJD Team Crosses Victory Mark In Jharkhand

The Jharkhand Mukti Morcha-led alliance won an absolute majority in Jharkhand assembly polls on Monday ousting the BJP-led government in the state.

It is BJP’s first major electoral defeat since the return of Prime Minister Narendra Modi to the office with a greater majority in the second term earlier this year and is expected to boost the morale of parties opposed to the Modi government.

The alliance, which includes Congress and JMM, rode on a strong performance of the JMM, and won 47 seats in the 81-member assembly.

Hemant Soren, who is likely to be the next chief minister, won from both seats he contested — Dumka and Barhait.

Chief Minister Raghubar Das lost to party rebel Saryu Rai from his traditional Jamshedpur East seat by over 15,000 votes. Rai had contested as an independent.

Das resigned and was asked to continue as caretaker chief minister by state Governor Draupadi Murmu.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi congratulated Hemant Soren and the JMM-led alliance for the victory in the Jharkhand polls.

BJP chief and Home Minister Amit Shah said the party respected the mandate and expressed his gratitude to the people of the state for giving an opportunity to the BJP to serve them for five years.

Jharkhand Mukti Morcha won 30 seats, Congress 16 and Rashtriya Janata Dal one seat.

The BJP, which was in power in the state in alliance with AJSU, fought the elections on its own. It won 25 seats.

Jharkhand Vikas Morcha (Prajatantrik) won three seats and AJSU won two seats. Communist Party of India (Marxist-Leninist) (Liberation) and NCP were ahead on one seat each.

The state had a five-phased assembly election which concluded on December 20.

Soren, who is JMM working president, won by a margin of 13,188 votes from the Dumka seat and from the Barhait assembly constituency by a margin of 25,740 votes.

Congress leaders Rahul Gandhi and Priyanka Gandhi Vadra congratulated party workers for the victory of the alliance while NCP leader Sharad Pawar said that Jharkhand has rejected BJP’s “arrogant politics”.

The results came at a time several opposition parties are opposing the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) and are supporting the protests against it.

The protests against CAA had figured in speeches in the Jharkhand polls. The Prime Minister conveyed his best wishes to the JMM-led alliance.

“Congratulations to HemantSoren Ji and the JMM-led alliance for the victory in the Jharkhand polls. Best wishes to them in serving the state,” he said in a tweet.

Modi also lauded party workers for their hard work.

“I thank the people of Jharkhand for having given BJP the opportunity to serve the state for many years. I also applaud the hardworking Party Karyakartas for their efforts. We will continue serving the state and raising people-centric issues in the times to come,” he added.

Shah said BJP will remain committed to the development of the state.

“We respect the mandate given by the people of Jharkhand. We express our heartfelt gratitude to the people for the opportunity given to BJP to serve the state for five years. The BJP will remain committed to the development of the state. Congratulations to all the workers for their hard work,” Shah said in his tweet.

Soren thanked the voters for the mandate given to the alliance and said that this win marks a milestone in the state’s history.

“I am thankful to the people of Jharkhand for the mandate. Today’s victory is full of happiness for many but for me, it is also the day to take a vow to fulfil the expectations of the people,” he said.

Dedicating the victory to his father and former Jharkhand chief minister Shibu Soren, the JMM leader also thanked the chiefs of Congress and RJD along with other leaders for their support in wresting power from the BJP.

“This win is the result of the hard work and struggle of ‘Dishom Guru’ Shibu Soren. The time has come to fulfil the goals for which this state was created. I want to thank Laluji, Soniaji, Rahulji and Priyankaji and all Congress leaders for all the support and for believing in me,” he said.

He said the alliance partners will meet soon to decide the next course of action. The alliance is likely to have a common minimum programme.


BJP Concedes Defeat In Jharkhand, Congratulates JMM

Union Home Minister and BJP president Amit Shah on Monday expressed gratitude to the people of Jharkhand for providing an opportunity to the BJP to serve the state for five years and said that the party respect the mandate given by the people.

“We respect the mandate given by the people of Jharkhand. We express our heartfelt gratitude to the people for the opportunity given to BJP to serve the state for five years. The BJP will remain committed to the development of the state. Congratulations to all the workers for their hard work,” tweeted Shah.

The alliance of JMM, Congress, and RJD appears poised to form government in Jharkhand with the three parties slated to cross the majority mark of 41 in the state assembly, according to trends of results at 7 pm on the official website of Election Commission of India.

The ruling BJP appears to be sliding in numbers compared to earlier trends and was leading on 26 seats.


Rahul Reads Constitution Preamble To Protest CAA, NRC

Congress leader Rahul Gandhi and former prime minister on Monday read the Preamble of the Constitution, during the protest against the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) and National Register of Citizens (NRC) at Rajghat.

Several party leaders including interim president Sonia Gandhi, Priyanka Gandhi Vadra, Ghulam Nabi Azad, Ahmed Patel, Anand Sharma and Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Kamal Nath are also present at the protest.

Earlier on Monday, Rahul Gandhi had urged the youth and students to join the party sit-in protest against the CAA and NRC at Rajghat.

“Dear students and youth of India, It’s not good enough just to feel Indian. At times like these, it’s critical to show that you’re Indian and won’t allow India to be destroyed by hatred. Join me today at 3 PM at Raj Ghat, to protest against the hate and violence unleashed on India by Modi-Shah,” he had tweeted.

Congress leaders Rahul Gandhi and Manmohan Singh read the Preamble of the Constitution

Congress has been protesting against the amended citizenship law which seeks to grant citizenship to refugees from Hindu, Christian, Sikh, Buddhist and Parsi communities fleeing religious persecution from Pakistan, Afghanistan, and Bangladesh who entered India on or before 31, 2014.


Five Men Awarded Death Penalty For Killing Khashoggi

A court in Saudi Arabia on Monday sentenced five men to death over the killing of Jamal Khashoggi in Turkey last year, the Kingdom’s public prosecutor’s office said.

Three others were also given a total of 24 years in prison for covering up the crime and violating other laws, The New York Times reported.

Khashoggi, who was a journalist with The Washington Post and a vocal critic of the Saudi regime, was killed on October 2 last year in Turkey where he had gone to obtain paperwork certifying his divorce from his former wife Alaa Nassif in order to be able to marry his Turkish fiancee Hatice Cengiz.

His killing brought international outrage and battered the reputation of Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.

The Kingdom has also been repeatedly called out for handling the case. Turkey where Khashoggi was killed also accused Riyadh of failing to co-operate in investigating the killing. The trial, held in the Saudi capital, has been shrouded in secrecy.

Giving out limited details of the trial, the public prosecutor’s office said on Monday that it had examined 31 suspects and arrested 21 of them. Of those, 11 were put on trial.

The Kingdom did not provide the names of those sentenced but named three suspects who were not among them. Mohammed al-Otaibi, the Saudi consul in Istanbul, and Ahmed Asiri, the deputy head of Saudi intelligence, were found not guilty, the prosecutor said.

The sentences announced on Monday were preliminary and subject to appeal.

The Central Intelligence Agency found that Saudi Prince had probably ordered the operation, which included two private jets and more than 15 government agents.


Deconstructing India’s New Citizenship Law

In an impassioned speech to mark the launch of his party’s campaign for the Delhi elections, Prime Minister Narendra Modi repeatedly assured Indian Muslims that the recently enacted Citizenship Amendment Bill (CAA) or the proposed roll-out of the National Register of Citizens (NRC) would not discriminate against those who were born in India. This comes in the wake of widespread protests, mainly by urban students, across India. The protests, including violent incidents leading to destruction of public property and clashes with police, spread across India, before being quelled.

What were the reasons for the sudden and spontaneous uprising by students? Mr Modi and his colleagues in the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) attribute it to their political rivals, chiefly the Congress party, who they claim have provoked the agitations by the students in order to gain electoral advantage in the forthcoming state elections, notably in Delhi, which goes to the polls in early 2020. But Mr Modi’s critics and the student agitators believe that the CAA and, potentially, the NRC, discriminate against Muslims, while they favour almost all other religious minorities. The Act and the register, critics feel, will further marginalise India’s population of 200 million Muslims and turn the country into a majoritarian state, dominated by Hindus, which is contrary to the secularist tenet of the nation’s Constitution.

What exactly does the CAA intend to do? Primarily, the Act amends the existing Indian Citizenship law, which prohibits illegal migrants from becoming Indian citizens. The old law prohibits illegal foreigners who enter India without valid visas or travel documents from staying in the country and denies them Indian citizenship. Under the new Act, which Mr Modi’s government has formulated, there are exceptions to that law. Now, Hindus, Christians, Sikhs, Parsis, and jains (notably not Muslims), if they have genuinely immigrated from Pakistan, Bangladesh or Afghanistan, will be allowed to stay in India and can be eligible for citizenship if they live or work in the country for six years. The government believes that this will provide sanctuary to those who have fled other countries because of religious persecution.

What then is the controversy surrounding the CAA? The Modi regime’s critics argue that the new Act discriminates against Muslims and, therefore, goes against the secular principles in the Indian Constitution. By separating Mulsims and non-Muslims, the Act, critics feel incorporates religious discrimination into a law and that runs counter to India’s long-standing secular principles. If illegal immigrants from other religions are allowed to seek refuge legally in India, why not also the Muslims who are persecuted in other countries. People belonging to certain sects in Pakistan (Ahmadis, for instance) or in Myanmar (Rohingyas) face oppression and persecution in their countries. Why should they be denied sanctuary? they ask.

What is the controversy over the NRC? The NRC is a register of people who are able to show proper credentials to prove that they came to India before March 24, 1971, the eve of the formation of Bangladesh (formerly East Pakistan), which neighbours India. Initially, the register was introduced in Assam, which has for decades faced a problem of illegal immigrants from Bangladesh. Before the register was published, the BJP government had rooted for it but after it was found to be ridden by errors—millions, primarily Bengali Hindus, were excluded—it was scrapped and could now be re-framed. The CAA and the NRC are interlinked. Now, non-Muslims who were exclude from the register could seek citizenship and not face deportation, particularly in states such as Assam.

The Modi regime, led by Home minister Amit Shah, now wants to roll out the NRC across all Indian states. This would mean illegal immigrants would have to prove their credentials in order to be entitled to permission to stay on in India. Critics believe that coupled with the CAA this could discriminate against Muslims who have migrated to India and have been staying in the country for a long time. Non-Muslims who are not on the NRC could be protected by the CAA and, hence, seek citizenship by naturalisation, while Muslims who are on listed on the register would be denied the right to stay.

What is the provocation for the protests? The student agitation—which Mr Modi and his colleagues in government say is a movement by “urban Naxals” (a reference to the ultra-Left Wing violent uprisings that peaked in the 1970s)—is fuelled by the view that the new law would discriminate against the largest minority community in India (the 200 million Muslims in India make it the country with the largest Muslim population outside of countries that are Muslim dominated) and , therefore, not only violate secularist principles but drive in the wedge further between the Muslim minority and the Hindu majority. A citizenship law that is based on religious affiliation destroys the secularist fabric of India, critics argue. But the student protests have to be viewed from a broader perspective.

The trigger point for the recent agitation by students was the CAA and NRC and the first protests took place in or around the campuses of two Muslim-centric universities—Aligarh Muslim University in Uttar Pradesh and the Jamia Millia Islamia University in Delhi. They quickly spread to other universities in India where students empathised with the protesters and organised their rallies, marches and assemblies. However, there have been other build-ups to the actual protests. The Modi regime is viewed by students as being intolerant and non-secularist. In particular, students have been apprehensive about recent developments that have demonstrated discriminatory trends.

The crackdown in Kashmir where leaders were put under house arrest, and communication was blocked after the government repealed special status for the Muslim-majority state is one provocation for the restiveness that has come to prevail on Indian university campuses. The Babri Masjid verdict, which, in essence, gives the go ahead for Hindu activists to gain control over a plot of land where an old mosque stood (it was demolished by Hindu activists in 1992) and build a temple dedicated to the mythological figure, Rama, is yet another point of discord.

India’s students are a significant force. As much as 50% of Indians are below the age of 25 and in recent years many of them feel insecure both economically as well as socially. Unemployment rates are high (although authentic data are difficult to access in India); the economy has been slowing down; consumer demand and, as a consequence, investment by industry is at its nadir. Increasingly, this is making India’s youth disenchanted with the establishment. The recent protests could, thus, be a foretaste of more serious agitations. It is time the Modi regime took note of the stark writing on the wall.