NEW DELHI: The National Campaign Against Torture (NCAT) today (18 March 2020) stated that about 6,00,000 refugees in India have been made forever stateless and remain at risks of refoulement because of their exclusion from the Citizenship Amendment Act, 2019 (CAA) which grants citizenship only to the Hindus, Sikhs, Buddhists, Jains, Parsis and Christians from Afghanistan, Bangladesh and Pakistan who entered India by 31.12.2014. The 6,00,000 refugees excluded from the CAA are about 1,08,005 Tibetan refugees, 3,04,269 Sri Lankan Tamil refugees, 39,619 refugees recognized by UNHCR, over 1,00,000 Chin refugees from Myanmar and about 40,000 Rohingya refugees from Myanmar.
“As any person who entered India without valid documents or over stayed after 30.05.2003 are defined as illegal immigrants under the Citizenship Act of 2003, they and their descendants are ineligible for Indian citizenship, and shall remain forever stateless and remain liable for deportation. The Ministry of Home Affairs while replying to Unstarred Question No.1076 on 04.08.2010 in the Rajya Sabha had categorically stated that the Tibetan refugees who entered after 30.5.2003 without valid documents are treated as illegal immigrants and such people are liable to be deported by following the provisions of the Foreigners Act.” – stated Mr Suhas Chakma, Coordinator of the NCAT.
“As the Union of India has no intention to repatriate any refugee except the Rohingyas, the Tibetan and Tamil refugees are destined to stay in India, forever as stateless while the Chin refugees have mostly been assimilated in Mizoram.”- also stated Mr Chakma.
*COUNTER-AFFIDAVIT MISLEADING INCLUDING ON ASYLUM SEEKER BALDEV KUMAR OF PAKISTAN:*
Mr Chakma further stated that the counter-affidavit filed by the Union of India to the Supreme Court on the petitions challenging the constitutionality of the CAA is not only premised on legally unsustainable grounds including on the jurisdiction of the Supreme Court, it also provides misleading information on the status of Mr Baldev Kumar, ex-Member of the Provincial Assembly from Pakistan’s Khyber Pakhtunkhwa who fled in September 2019 and had sought asylum in India.
The MHA in its counter affidavit while asserting that asylum seekers like Baldev Kumar can apply for citizenship stated that “There is no estoppel on the legal migration in the country and subject to fulfilment of conditions in Section 6 read with the Third Schedule or section 5 of the 1955 Act, making an application of citizenship.”
Countering this false narrative of the Central Government Mr Chakma stated, “Section 5 and Section 6 of the Citizenship Act prohibit the grant of Indian citizenship to an illegal migrant. Every persecuted religious minority from Afghanistan, Bangladesh and Pakistan has neither come nor will come as a legal migrant. If every persecuted religious minority from Afghanistan, Bangladesh and Pakistan is a legal migrant, there is no need for the CAA and therefore, the CAA has been enacted for malafide purposes.”
*STOP USING REFUGEES AS PAWNS FOR GEO-POLITICS:*
Justifying the exclusion of the 6,00,000 refugees in India, the Union of India in its counter-affidavit stated that “the classification of particular neighbouring countries is directly relatable to the foreign policy of the nation and cannot be questioned on the ground of under-inclusiveness.”
“The right to equality before the law or the equal protection of the laws within the territory of India of these officially recognised refugees guaranteed under Article 14 cannot be sacrificed or denied for geo-political purposes. The classification of the persecuted refugees based on geo-political considerations is illegal, inhumane and immoral and cannot be justified in the eyes of the law.” – also Mr Chakma.
Mr Chakma urged the Union of India to stop using the refugees as pawns for its foreign policy, implement the two Supreme Court judgments on the grant of citizenship to the Chakmas of Hajongs pending since 9 January 1996, and take measures to naturalise identified 6,00,000 refugees in India instead of enacting unconstitutional CAA whose ultimate beneficiaries have not even been identified.