Don’t believe CAA spin, it's not a refugee law: Experts

Don’t believe CAA spin, it's not a refugee law, say experts

Speaking at the Bangalore International Centre (BIC) Hub’ba on Sunday, the experts warned that one critical flaw of the law is that it assumes that all non-Muslim refugees in India are automatically fleeing religious persecution. 

Legal experts described the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) as a “dangerous” piece of legislation masquerading as a refugee-centric law, saying it seeks to marginalise certain segments of society. 

Speaking at the Bangalore International Centre (BIC) Hub’ba on Sunday, the experts warned that one critical flaw of the law is that it assumes that all non-Muslim refugees in India are automatically fleeing religious persecution. 

“Many of the people that the CAA is trying to help are economic migrants fleeing impoverishment, which many Muslims in Pakistan, Bangladesh and Afghanistan would also like to do, but cannot because the framework prefers to divide refugees by religion,” said Malavika Prasad, a lawyer with expertise on the CAA and the Constitution. 

She pointed out that the CAA’s central flaw was that it sought to allow Hindus, Christians, Jains, Parsis and Buddhists fleeing poverty in Bangladesh, Afghanistan and Pakistan to claim citizenship while offering no such option for Muslims also fleeing those countries. 

“What the CAA does is that it says people from these religious groups are deemed not to be illegal migrants and that is the problem,” she said. 

For Prasad, there is also a clear link between the CAA and the National Register of Citizens (NRC), despite the Union government’s assurances on the matter. 

“This is because under the NRC, a person cannot even begin to be considered a citizen. You can only apply for citizenship and you can only claim citizenship if you can show first that you are not an illegal migrant. This is the reason why the CAA, which is being described as a refugee law, is very much about hurting migrants,” she said. 

Speaking to DH later, journalist Rahul Jacob said that the problematic nature of the law was not limited to its “divisiveness”. “It is also undermining India’s soft-power, built up over decades,” he said, explaining that where India has one critical advantage over the material and financial superiority of the Chinese was that it offered a stable, democratic alternative which also stood for human rights. 

“We were doing so much better than China in terms of cultural exchange alone. I mean, we had Bollywood. But with news of the CAA, the protests and the possibility that India is becoming exclusionary being splashed across the pages of international papers, that power is eroding,” he said. 

DH Newsletter Privacy Policy Get top news in your inbox daily
GET IT
Comments (+)