Demystifying NRC and CAA: What the protests are about










By Mudassir Husain
Advocate, Bengaluru


Dec 19: The issue of citizenship is again at the forefront with the recent changes made to the Citizenship Act of 1955 by the central government. While the government claims that the changes were made purely to help the religious minorities of Pakistan, Afghanistan and Bangladesh who were facing persecution, people across communities feel that this is a brazen attempt to destroy the secular nature of India.

The ruling party at the center has time and again stated that the National Register of Citizen (NRC) process will be extended to the rest of the country. The fact that Citizenship Act of 1955 was amended just before the implementation of NRC raises many eyebrows.

Over the past two weeks, there has been widespread civic unrest all over the country. The exact implications of Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) and NRC are unknown. Here, I have attempted to provide some clarity on the subject based on my reading of the Citizenship Amendment Bill and other relevant laws.

What is Citizenship Amendment Act?

The provisions relating to Indian Citizenship are provided under the Citizenship Act ,1955, which has now been modified by the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA). Normally, illegal immigrants are detained and penal consequences under the Passport (entry into India) Act 1920 and Foreigners Act 1946 are levied upon them. The central government in 2015 and 2016 exempted the illegal immigrants belonging to Hindu, Sikh, Jain, Buddhist, Parsi or Christian communities from Afghanistan, Pakistan and Bangladesh from the penal consequences and even made them eligible for long term visa to stay in India.

Now, by way of the Citizenship Amendment Act 2019, the illegal migrants from these countries who belong to the above-mentioned communities and who have migrated to India before 2014 shall be granted certificate of citizenship by naturalization. Citizenship by naturalization essentially means that any person staying legally in India for a minimum period of time as stipulated under the law shall be eligible to seek citizenship. Earlier, a person irrespective of his religion, had to stay for a minimum of 12 years to be eligible to seek citizenship. CAA now brings it down to 5 years and does away with the requirement of ‘legally staying’.

Summary: In essence, any person from these countries belonging to these communities shall be granted a certificate of citizenship if they entered India before 2014 irrespective of whether they legally entered India or not. Illegal immigrants belonging to Muslim or other communities shall never be granted citizenship by naturalization even if they have been staying here for generation. They will be detained and prosecuted.

What is National Register of Citizens?

As the name suggests, it is a register which identifies all the citizens of the country. To establish oneself as a citizen, he/she has to prove that his/her forefathers were habitants of India before a particular date set by the government (In Assam, the cutoff year was 1971 wherein large-scale migration from Bangladesh into India took place).

How does NRC and CAA affect Muslims?

NRC, when seen in isolation, does not seem to be very harmful. Likewise, though CAA is heavily biased against Muslims, when see in isolation, it will not be perceived as a great problem. However, the problem arises when you read NRC in conjunction with CAA. The joint effect of NRC and CAA is that 20+ crore Muslims and others are forced to prove their nationality to save themselves from detention centres and prosecution while a blanket immunity is provided to people belonging to the other communities as mentioned in the CAA. It essentially means that when NRC process is initiated, if a Muslim fails to establish that his forefathers were habitants of India before the cutoff date, he will be detained. However, if a non-Muslim fails to establish the same, he can always seek the help of CAA and claim immunity. Is it fair? You decide.

Does NRC and CAA affect non-Muslims in any way?

As against the popular belief, NRC and CAA affect each and every citizen of this country. Sadly, it is not just about helping refugees from other counties as claimed by the government. Remember the inconvenience caused to you during demonetisation? This time around, it will be 100 times worse. While you tried to prove the legitimacy of your money then, brace yourself to prove the legitimacy of your citizenship now.

Technically, only people belonging to Hindu, Jain, Parsi, Buddhist or Christian communities from Afghanistan, Pakistan and Bangladesh who have migrated to India to escape religious persecution are eligible to avail the benefits of CAA. What happens to a Kannadiga Hindu or a Tamilian Christian who lacks the required documentation to prove his citizenship? Purely going by the statement of objects and reasons provided in the Citizenship Amendment Bill, it appears that people with different language and ethnicity as compared to the ethnicity and language of the above mentioned three counties, may end up in detention centres if they fail to prove their citizenship.

In Assam, out of the 19 lac immigrants identified during NRC process, 12 lac were non-Muslims. Unless a non-Muslim with no documents can convince that he is from those three counties, he may face the same consequences which a similarly placed Muslim faces.

Why should you protest against NRC and CAA?

NRC and CAA are not about any particular community. NRC and CAA strike at the very foundation of our country. The fight against NRC and CAA is to protect the core ideals and principles upon which our country stands. India is a diverse country and its laws are designed in a way such that all communities can maintain their distinct identities without being in conflict with each other. The minorities in any country are always in fear of majority domination and our Constitution provides sufficient protection to address these fears of minorities. The current regime is however adding onto those fears.

As witnessed numerous times in history, treating minorities as second class citizens by majority always ends badly for the country. Sri Lanka is a classic example. The Sinhala-Tamil conflict turned into a civil war which ultimately destroyed the country’s thriving economy.

India is currently facing many economic challenges. Unemployment rate is steadily increasing day by day. Businesses are closing down. At this juncture, civil unrest is the worst thing that can happen to us. Students, acientists, academicians have come out in the open protesting against these laws which are aimed at destroying the secular fabric of our country. Remember, they are not doing a favour to the Muslims, but merely performing their duties as citizens of India to wrest the control of our country from fascist forces who are trying to divide us on religious lines.



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Comment on this article

  • G M Hegde, Udupi

    Wed, Jan 01 2020

    Events in Assam were different & on orders of Supreme Court. Please do not heed to rumours spread by dishonest intellectuals & get anxious. NRC would be similar to applying & gaining Voter Card or Passport. Land records or statement & certification of village head, community leafer wud also be acceptable. How can Indian Muslims even think they will be driven out & why would this thought even arise in their minds or minds of any Indian citizen unless they are mislead, instigated & victims of false propoganda, its a different story that my fabricator & mechanic accept whatsapp as God & believe all that is passed on.

    DisAgree [1] Agree [1] Reply Report Abuse

  • Vijay Ral, Boston

    Thu, Dec 19 2019

    The only alternative is to include proof of birth as declared in school/college certificate, Registration of Birth /death were made compulsory only in 1975 and in many cities there were no municipalities. 80-90% of the births took place at homes and there was no urgency /imminent need for people to register the births at village panchayats. Besides , if one visits his/her place of birth after a gap of 20-25 years, one will hardly find their neighbours, many times their own elderly kith and kin. or even many of the school mates. When such is the case how can anyone prove their father's ancestry? In other words, simplification of proof required for NRC should be made simpler.

    DisAgree [2] Agree [11] Reply Report Abuse

  • Kateel Pai, Vital

    Thu, Dec 19 2019

    For NRC, let all those who are present in the country as of now be made citizens. Let the new rules apply for the future starting today. Even if you are able to identify the illegals where will you send them?

    DisAgree [4] Agree [14] Reply Report Abuse

  • Manvit, Mangalore

    Thu, Dec 19 2019

    Send all illegal migrants back to their country, its very simple. If you are Indian not migrated from anywhere even though you are Muslim why to worry. If NRC asks documents everyone has their document like ration card, school certificate etc. For the younger generation, its not a problem but the older generation everyone has their ration card or property papers.

    The only problem someone may face are beggars that too they are very few . So people just object for the sake of political mileage especially congis & some NGOs.

    DisAgree [28] Agree [46] Reply Report Abuse


    Thu, Dec 19 2019

    documents issue before 1971 correct . Example Raheem and Ramu both failed to show their documents whos Ancestors are born Indian. then what will be the result? Ramu will be given indian citizenship based on him religion. how about raheem?

    DisAgree [25] Agree [57] Reply Report Abuse

  • Shetty, Mangalore

    Thu, Dec 19 2019

    Ramu will get only if he proves he was persecuted and migrated from 3 countries... If he has come from other countries, then both Ramu and Raheem will have to go back where they came from...

    Going forward if we take your argument and consider both as migrants and provide both Ramu and Raheem citizenship , then Ramu might ask all his bethren to come along which may be a best 5-6 million which we can manage. But if Raheem brings all his brethren along it will be 500 million which we can noway accomodate..

    Hope you got the difference...

    DisAgree [49] Agree [43] Reply Report Abuse

  • Santan Mascarenhas, Kinnigoli/Mumbai

    Thu, Dec 19 2019

    The article by Mudashir Husain, the advocate, is lucid and self explanatory. I am writing here what I heard from a person who has gone through the NRC process in Assam.

    I have an Assamese relative, who is highly educated. She proved her NRC, but her elder sister is still out of the NRC list. In Assam, cut off date was March 1971.

    Even for other states, Govt may not give a cut off date after 1971. 65% of our people are below 35 age and they will have an onerous task to be in NRC list. My relative said it is an Herculian task to prove your citizenship if you were born after the cut off date.

    Church, Temple or Mosque birth certificates are not accepted. Only Health dept of Municipality certificate is accepted. None of the school, University certificates, ration card, adhaar card, pan card, driving licence, passport and voter Id is accepted for proving NRC for people born after cut off date. They have to prove that their ancestors were Indians. If someone's parents were born after the cut off date, one has to go deep into grandparent and has to make a family tree like document that his grandparents were Indians. However, people who were born before cut off date, it is less cumbersome.

    Since under CAB, most of the people except Muslims are accepted as refugees, Muslims will have to go through a big rigmarole and probably punishment under the law, if not proved in NRC.

    DisAgree [4] Agree [54] Reply Report Abuse

  • RSRB, Kundapura

    Thu, Dec 19 2019

    Everyone has to undergo these difficulties in life. I have to undergo these things while dealing land of my ancestral property. CAA is an opportunity to make the documents clear.

    DisAgree [25] Agree [11] Reply Report Abuse

  • zakir, B'lore

    Thu, Dec 19 2019

    If you mentioned documents :

    " None of the school, University certificates, ration card, adhaar card, pan card, driving licence, passport and voter Id is accepted for proving NRC for people born after cut off date"

    are not accepted then what else (document) to prove their citizenship ?????

    DisAgree [4] Agree [20] Reply Report Abuse

  • Santan Mascarenhas, Kinnigoli/Mumbai

    Thu, Dec 19 2019

    Father should be in NRC list and by birth certificate I have to prove that he is my father.

    DisAgree [1] Agree [9] Reply Report Abuse

  • Peshu dalmeida, Manipal

    Thu, Dec 19 2019

    Good compiling...cleared my doubts.

    Thank you sir for writing this up

    DisAgree [18] Agree [31] Reply Report Abuse

  • Nageshj, kudla

    Thu, Dec 19 2019

    CAA is passed in the parliament and it is applicable for non-Indian citizens, who belong to persecuted minorities of Pak, Afgh, Bngsh (which are Non-Secular' nations, and where religious minorities are butchered) -
    a naturalisation process is being given.

    NRC is neither drafted nor approved in parliament. It is imaginative to start theories on an undrafted Nationwide NRC.
    Next if the Assam model of NRC is quoted, please note it is court monitored and not any govt monitored. And it is not the final one as per the court itself because there is so many shortcomings in it.
    There are 19lakh people who are facing the issue with Assam NRC and it includes people of all religion, including Hindus, and it is divisive to say that is targeted at Muslims.
    Lastly, even if the Assam model is used, which is again the remotest possible one, the NRC is applicable to all irrespective of religion.
    To this someone said - yes in that case, all except Muslims will get shelter under CAA, and hence CAA and NRC combo is Draconian. To this my simple answer is please read CAA.

    A non persecuted Hindu+ from a country other than Pak, Afgh, Bgdsh will not be given shelter under CAA. How on Earth a person living here show that he is from Pak to claim previlage under CAA ?

    What we need to make all of them aware is - CAA isn't about Indian citizens. Anyone who calls themselves an Indian citizen need not worry on CAA. NRC when implemented, which is done since decades, is applicable to all citizens. If the NRC contains any biased division let's talk when it is tabled, because if it affects you so affects me.

    DisAgree [19] Agree [42] Reply Report Abuse

  • gm, Mlur

    Thu, Dec 19 2019

    Can you change demonetization now? Can we go back now? See the economy, unemployment problems today, what is the reason for this?

    DisAgree [34] Agree [55] Reply Report Abuse

  • Aam Aadmi, Mangalore

    Thu, Dec 19 2019

    Did you read the article or just copy pasted from the BJP IT cell whatsapp factory?

    DisAgree [35] Agree [46] Reply Report Abuse

  • Anon, Mangalore

    Thu, Dec 19 2019

    Quoting your last para ‘anyone who calls themselves an Indian citizen’....
    And how do we ‘call ourselves’ Indian citizens? Show papers. Right? There, my friend, is the road to fill all the detention centers that are being built.

    DisAgree [9] Agree [12] Reply Report Abuse

  • BH Balakrishna Pai, Mangaluru/Navimumbai

    Thu, Dec 19 2019

    Rightly said. People dont read the law CAA carefully and have their own interpretation to suit them and incite people against the govt. of the day.

    DisAgree [7] Agree [6] Reply Report Abuse

  • Nawaz, Udupi/ Kuwait

    Fri, Dec 20 2019


    What do you think you are trying to convince? Is India the Playground and indian people the servants for these politicians who make us dance to their tune? They are infact the servants of, We, the Citizens.
    If NRC is still not a final thing; why the Government made the people of Assam suffer for 10 long years in the name of NRC? . Why the Government spent 1,600 Crores on NRC? .

    You said: "A non persecuted Hindu+ from a country other than Pak, Afgh, Bgdsh will not be given shelter under CAA. How on Earth a person living here show that he is from Pak to claim previlage under CAA ?" Unquote
    Answer: A Non Muslim in India can be either an Origianl Indian Non Muslim or Illegal Immigrant Non Muslim. And since NRC has proven that he is Non Indian; he automatically has to be considered as the Illegal persecuted minority of any of those 3 nations; and there is no other remaining possibility. And Amit Shah has made it clear in the Parliament that there won't be any documents asked at all from someone who claims as an Illegal Immigrant; to provide them Indian Nationality.

    So, after all these efforts and mental torture; only remainig category is Indian Muslims; left out of the NRC; now officially classified as ILLEGAL MUSLIM IMMIGRANTS.

    DisAgree [3] Agree [4] Reply Report Abuse

  • Nawaz, Udupi/ Kuwait

    Fri, Dec 20 2019


    When Amit Shah is repeatedly telling that NRC is going to be implemented throughout the Country; what is your authority to superceed the Home Minister of India?

    DisAgree [3] Agree [3] Reply Report Abuse

  • Avinash, Ksd/Bluru

    Thu, Dec 19 2019

    Ok sir you continue your protest. But NRC and CAA will not be withdrawn.
    We are already facing problems from illegal entrants from bangldesh and myanmar

    DisAgree [76] Agree [63] Reply Report Abuse

  • Nasir, Bajpe

    Thu, Dec 19 2019

    If you have problems with the illegal entrants from bangldesh and myanmar, please throw them away.

    How about bringing Hindus and Christians from Pakistan, Bangladesh and some other countries. Will you feed them? will you give them employment.

    DisAgree [39] Agree [73] Reply Report Abuse

  • Azeez Vittal, Dubai

    Thu, Dec 19 2019

    We agree that ,increase in the number of illegal immigrants is a grave concern as it pose threat to the national security.But the issue here is bias.Tht's where the problem lies.Why the govt excludes only muslims from the CAB process.Isn't it unfair and contradictory when our constitution gives equal rights and considers all religions to be same.
    It's a good article. I apprecaite Mr.Mudassir for enlightening us about this subject.

    DisAgree [28] Agree [55] Reply Report Abuse

  • Shetty, Mangalore

    Thu, Dec 19 2019

    Simple... Constitution applies to citizens and CAA is for non citizens only....

    DisAgree [9] Agree [15] Reply Report Abuse

  • Sandeep, Bangalore

    Thu, Dec 19 2019

    This CAA and NRC are deliberately brought into picture by government so that we can diviate from actual economic crisis that India is facing. And government is successful on that matter now no one talks about our deprived economy.

    DisAgree [21] Agree [45] Reply Report Abuse

  • Ahmed, Bangalore

    Thu, Dec 19 2019

    Even if this NRC or CAA issue was not there, Godi media would have never talked about collapsed economy of the country. Only when people become roadpati then they will understand and that day will turn a nightmare to BJP and it's allies.

    DisAgree [18] Agree [29] Reply Report Abuse

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