Bollywood actor Farhan Akhtar took to Twitter and urged social media users to join him in a protest on 19th December 2019 in Mumbai’s Azad Maidan against the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) and the National Register for Citizens (NRC).
He wrote, “Here’s what you need to know about why these protests are important. See you on the 19th at August Kranti Maidan, Mumbai. The time to protest on social media alone is over.”
While making this appeal, Akhtar, very confidently, shared an infographic saying how these are the facts about the CAA and NRC and how this is why everyone must join him in the protests.
However, Akhtar could not be far from the truth. Not only the map of India he used gives away parts of Ladakh and Jammu & Kashmir to China and Pakistan respectively, but the reasons he gives for protesting are also flawed too. A point by point rejoinder is blown:
- The non-Muslims who are persecuted because of their religious identities in Islamic countries like Pakistan, Afghanistan and Bangladesh, will get citizenship under this act. The Muslims fleeing these countries can also apply for citizenship which may or may not be granted as per the due process set by the government. Hence, it is factually incorrect to say ‘the law excludes Muslim’. Only this particular act does. Moreover, Muslims aren’t persecuted minorities in these countries.
- Akhtar says when combined with NRC, the Indian Muslims will be stateless. NRC, when it comes into force, will be applicable to all citizens of India, including non-Muslims. Moreover, the CAA is applicable to non-Muslims from these three countries who have entered India before 31st December 2014. If they have entered India after the cut-off date, the same laws will be applicable. Hence, even non-Muslims will be continued to be treated as illegal immigrants and can be jailed or deported back to the Islamic countries.
- Akhtar says “Many people will be inhumanly excluded due to being Muslims, transgender, atheists, Adivasis, Dalits, women, landless and/or without document. They could be jailed or deported or placed in camps”. This is fear-mongering and confuses NRC (which is not even here yet) with CAA. One has to submit documents of citizenship under NRC. Non-Muslims who come to India after 31st December 2014 don’t automatically become Indian citizens and get all benefits of being an India. They can, however, continue to apply for citizenship under normal procedures. Wonder why is it so hard to understand.
- He then speaks about NRC. He says how every person in India needs to prove through documentary evidence that they have a right to live in this country. This is a fair thing. To live in a country, one must be able to provide some evidence.
- Except, in the next point, he mentions how “ID card and tax slips are not enough”. Please note, the NRC is not yet implemented and there is no official information available on which documents will be considered and which will not be. This is fearmongering. Akhtar then goes on to question how many have their proof of ancestry dating as back as 1971. This date was specifically for Assam as that is the date mentioned in the Assam Accord signed by Congress government. It does not apply to any other place. The NRC in Assam was also monitored by the Supreme Court.
- He himself mentions that the date was specific to Assam but then indulges in fear-mongering. The cut-off date the proposed nationwide NRC is yet to be decided by the government of India. Concrete information on the technicalities and procedures of the proposed nationwide NRC is yet to come out.
- Next, he goes on to create panic about NRC and CAA. He says non-Muslims under the CAA will be automatically granted citizenship without documents and it will leave Indian Muslims without documentation in a lurch. However, that is also untrue. CAA only ‘fast-tracks’ citizenship of non-Muslims from Pakistan, Afghanistan, and Bangladesh. Any Indian Hindu without documents under the NRC will face the same procedure as any Muslim under the NRC. Non-Muslims will not be getting any free pass in the proposed NRC exercise.
The Bollywood entertainers like Farhan Akhtar and other intelligentsia in the country, who considers themselves to ‘elite’ should be responsible and spread messages of communal harmony and peace instead of inciting Muslim masses who are already on rampage across the country after a similar disinformation campaign against the Citizenship Amendment Act was pushed by the opposition parties and their media ecosystem.