Protests against the Citizenship Amendment Act 2019 (CAA) were carried out by a group of different organizations including transgender, queer and Adivasi. Anjali Bhardwaj the activist said the protests will continue in the country until the law is repealed. She said, “When it (CAA) is seen along with National Population Register, happening, the law should be repealed. Certainly not to be done in that manner which has been done.”
“The only face of the government is police,” Anjali Bhardwaj said over the issue especially in Uttar Pradesh when the functionaries of the government are supposed to engage with the people. She noted that the Indians are concerned as the CAA compromises on the basic fabric of the country and it is an assault on basic principles enshrined in the Constitution such as on equality and secularism. She said people are concerned over National Register of Citizens and National Population Register along with CAA for many people do not have documents to prove their identity particularly transgender, queer and Adivasis. She pointed out to the central government’s exercise over National Population Register (NPR) process in Assam which showed grave practical problems and it has left out 7% of the total population in the state who could not prove they were citizens which includes 12 lakh Hindus and 7 lakh Muslims.
The Union Cabinet headed by Prime Minister Narendra Modi has recently approved the proposal for conducting Census of India 2021 and updating NPR. Census of India 2021 will be done at a cost of Rs 8,754.23 crore whereas Rs 3,941.35 crore will be invested for the NPR updating process. Census of India will cover the entire population in the country while NPR will also cover all the population except in the state of Assam. The decennial census is due in 2021 and it is the largest administrative and statistical exercise in the world.
CAA has caused fear among certain sections of people in India as the government sees them as ‘doubtful citizens’ noted Anjali Bhardwaj. She said citizenship is a very important issue for people as many entitlements are linked to it. When pointed out that CAA also grants citizenship to 6 religious minorities in Afghanistan, Bangladesh and Pakistan in Muslim-majority states what is the problem? She said nobody is opposing to grant citizenship to religious minorities but to exclude Muslims is discriminatory for there could be Ahmadiyas who are Muslims in those countries but could be subjected to discrimination.
Anjali Bhardwaj is also the founder of Satark Nagrik Sangathan (SNS). SNS works for empowered and vigilant citizenry, and issues related to transparency in the governance. She is one of the leading experts on Right to Information in India.