Incidentally, the persecuted minorities in Pakistan, Afghanistan and Bangladesh don’t include Muslims as they are sheltered from governments’ atrocities since ‘Islam’ is their major religion. But in reality, Baloch, Pashtuns, Brahuis (Muslims) and Ahmadiyyas (constitutionally de-recognised as Muslims) are politically and economically marginalised. Would CAA benefit all the ‘persecuted minorities’? Understanding the hidden biases.
The CAA has raised an unprecedented furore in the country. The amendment to the Act redefines ‘illegal migrants’ under Section 2(1)(b) of the principal Act of 1955 by exempting specifically six minority religious communities, namely, Hindus, Sikhs, Buddhists, Jains, Parsis and Christians. It is a historical fact that trans-border migration of population has been happening continuously between the territories of India and the areas presently comprised in Pakistan, Afghanistan and Bangladesh. Millions of citizens of undivided India belonging to various faiths were staying in the said areas of Pakistan and Bangladesh when India was partitioned in 1947. The constitutions of Pakistan, Afghanistan and Bangladesh provide for a specific state religion. As a result, many persons belonging to Hindu, Sikh, Buddhist, Jain, Parsi and Christian communities have faced persecution on grounds of religion in those countries. Some of them also have fears about such persecution in their day-to-day life where the right to practice, profess and propagate their religion has been obstructed and restricted. Many such persons have fled to India to seek shelter and continued to stay in India even if their travel documents have expired or they have incomplete or no documents.
Under the existing provisions of the Act, migrants from Hindu, Sikh, Buddhist, Jain, Parsi or Christian communities from Afghanistan, Pakistan or Bangladesh who entered into India without valid travel documents or if the validity of their documents has expired are regarded as illegal migrants and ineligible to apply for Indian citizenship under section 5 or section 6 of the Act.
Furthermore, this exclusion applies only to persons from three of India’s neighbouring countries — Pakistan, Bangladesh and Afghanistan. The Statement of Objects and Reasons (SOR) of the Citizenship Bill 2019 focuses on benefitting ‘persecuted minorities’ from the above three countries whose state religion is Islam.
Curiously, the SOR seems to have telescoped time, seeming to give an impression that we are closer in time to 1947 when Partition took place. Furthermore, agnostics and atheists do not seem to figure in the category of persecuted persons. It is far from clear and there seems some reason for not disclosing the total number of applicants for citizenship in the category concerned and how long they have been waiting. Some people suggest that the number is not more than 30,000. But then, over the years, several thousand have been given citizenship under the parent legislation and those include Muslims. Why others of Indian origin did not make it is not known.
It is perplexing how Parliament believes that the persecuted minorities in the above-mentioned countries do not include the ‘Muslim’ population. It is presumed that since they live in countries that recognise ‘Islam’ as its state religion, they are sheltered from atrocities by their governments on grounds of religion, which is inflicted on ‘other minorities’. However, in Balochistan, which is one of the four provinces of Pakistan, the Baloch, along with Pashtuns and Brahuis (Muslims), are politically and economically marginalised. They have been subject to a heavyhanded armed response by the Pakistani government, time and again, for demanding more provincial autonomy to escape exploitative central nationalist policies. This form of persecution, which has seen thousands of deaths due to violence by state actors, has been noticed globally as a conflict that needs resolution.
A 2006 report by the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan brought to light the insurgencies, detention, torture, extra-judicial and summary executions, disappearances, etc., against the Baloch, corroborated by Amnesty International. The Baloch are thus left to suffer, with little to no support from neighbouring countries, especially India, who by virtue of the CAA would not recognise them as ‘persecuted’, and a natural bar imposed through the exclusion of ‘Muslims’ from the amendment. Curiously, this is so despite the Prime Minister having vowed his support to Balochistan from the ramparts of the Red Fort. Interestingly, Khan Abdul Ghaffar Khan or the Frontier Gandhi, a proud Pashtun who spent long years in Pakistani prisons, would not have qualified for Indian citizenship under the CAA.
Curiously, the CAA was preceded by the 2015 amendment of the Foreigners Order, 1948, whereby the newly inserted Rule 3A exempted persons belonging to minority communities in Bangladesh and Pakistan (namely Hindus, Sikhs, Buddhists, Jains, Parsis and Christians) who were compelled to seek shelter in India due to religious persecution or fear of the same on or before 31 December 2014, from the Foreigners Act, 1946. It would be noted that Afghanistan was not included at that stage. It is a moot point as to why this preparatory step towards CAA went unnoticed and unchallenged.
Similar is the case for Ahmadiyyas in Pakistan who have been persecuted by the Sunni majority population for believing in Mirza Gulam Ahmad to be the promised Messiah. In a country that has a state religion, Ahmadiyyas are precluded from being recognised as Muslims according to the Pakistani Constitution, effectively making them a minority group. Article 260 of the Constitution of Pakistan was amended with effect from 17 September 1974 to define Muslims to the exclusion of ‘Ahmadiyyas’.
This constitutional de-recognition of Ahmadiyyas from the definition of ‘Muslims’ and the prevailing antiAhmadiyya sentiment in the majority population has resulted in large-scale violence and persecution. The 1953 Lahore riots and the 1974 anti-Ahmadiyya riots are stark reminders of their persecution in a country which has, perhaps, their largest population in the world. Additionally, in 2018, antiblasphemy laws were introduced by the Pakistani government which are supplemental to Ordinance XX, introduced in 1984 to bar the public practice of their faith, use of honorific titles, etc, as punishable with imprisonment.
It has also been debated that the noninclusion of minorities from other neighbouring countries, particularly from Sri Lanka or even Bhutan, is illogical. In Sri Lanka, thousands of Tamils faced discrimination and violence at the hands of the majoritarian Sinhalese, in a civil war that lasted more than two decades and culminated in the horrific massacre of Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) cadres. These excluded Hindus (Tamils) who have been at the receiving end of state-led atrocities and ethnically targeted and isolated in Sri Lanka. People who follow Buddhism in Sri Lanka had also been radicalised, leading to the formation of violent groups. If an assumption of ‘having roots in India’ is to be made for the purposes of the benefits of CAA, Sri Lankan Hindu Tamils would definitely form part as indeed Sikhs from Afghanistan, but not because of religious persecution in their case.
The writer is senior Congress leader and former Minister of External Affairs.
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Netizens divided over Deepti Sharma ‘Mankading’ England’s Charlotte Dean
Indian all-rounder Deepti Sharma’s act of’mankading’ England’s Charlotte Dean at the non-striker’s end has generated a lot of polarising reactions on social media, leaving the cricketing fraternity divided.
This was first done by Indian cricket legend Vinoo Mankad during 1947-48 during India’s tour of Australia by running out Australia’s Bill Brown at non-striker’s end, which earned it the name ‘Mankading’. Though many cricketers argue that it is against the spirit of the game, it is totally legal as per the laws of the sport.
The Indian cricketers were extremely quick in coming to the defence of Deepti.
Ravichandran Ashwin, who had run out Rajasthan Royals’ Jos Buttler during IPL 2019 in a similar manner while playing for Punjab Kings, quipped on him trending after Deepti’s act, saying that “tonight is about another bowling hero, Deepti Sharma.”
“Why the hell are you trending Ashwin? “Tonight is about another bowling hero @Deepti_Sharma06,” tweeted Ashwin.
Former Indian opener Virender Sehwag also defended the all-rounder, posting a meme and sharing the Marylebone Cricket Club (MCC) law as per which mankading is completely legal.
“It’s funny to see so many English guys being poor losers. #Runout” tweeted Sehwag.
Former Indian opener Wasim Jaffer also defended Deepti, saying that the ball comes into play when the bowler starts his run up and as a non-striker, one must have his eye on the ball.
“It’s actually quite simple. Ball comes into play when bowler activates run up. From that moment on, as a batter or non-striker, you have to keep your eyes on the ball. If you are a bit careless, the opposition will get you out. And you can get out at either end,” tweeted Jaffer.
Deepti found support from international players from other countries as well.
South African bowler Tabraiz Shamsi seemed to voice his support for Deepti, saying that batters can also learn to stay behind the line just like bowlers are forced to stay behind the line while bowling.
“I’m on no one’s side here but my opinion is that if bowlers are forced to stay behind the line while bowling due to the laws in place…. batters can learn to stay behind the line too while backing up due to the laws in place. Seems fair to me if we all just follow the laws,” tweeted Shamsi.
Former English spinner also said that though it will be questioned, but mankading is under the laws of the sport. “It would be questioned for a long time but it’s in the law of the games. You can be run out by #mankading. Bear in mind it’s in the laws of the game. #ENGvsIND,” tweeted Panesar.
By fulfilling over 650 wishes, John Sena emerges as real-life genie
Wrestler-turned-actor John Cena has officially broken the Guinness World Record for the most Make-A-Wish Foundation wishes granted with a 650 count, Guinness announced. According to The Hollywood Reporter, he is the most requested Make-A-Wish celebrity, with no other star even coming close to granting as many wishes as Cena has in the foundation’s decades-long history.
Back in 2015, when he was honoured for granting 500 wishes, the ‘Peacemaker’ actor opened up about the foundation and how much he enjoys doing what he does. “I just drop everything. If I can offer a fantastic experience, I’ll be first in line to do my part, “ Cena said at the time.
Cena has been granting wishes since 2002, a few years after he began his career as a professional wrestler. As his popularity as a 16-time world champion soared, so did children’s requests for him to grant their wishes.
Of why he continues granting kids’ wishes, Cena said, “I want them to have an experience that will stay with them forever. I don’t ever want the children or their families to be treated in a way where they feel as if they’re up against anything at all,” reported The Hollywood Reporter.
A champion WWE wrestler, Cena has made huge strides into acting, tackling profane comedies (‘Blockers’, ‘Vacation Friends’) and family comedies (‘Playing With Fire’) in equal measure, as well as adventure and action movies.
Last year, he starred in both ‘F9: The Fast Saga’ and ‘The Suicide Squad’, the latter a Warner’s DC movie that spun off his character, Peacemaker, into his own series for HBO Max.
Modern Kashmir on display: Aalaav food fest celebrates traditional dishes
A food festival named Aalaav was organised in Srinagar to celebrate traditional food and encourage more women to set up food businesses. The festival was organised by the Department of Rural Livelihood Mission of Jammu and Kashmir to celebrate traditional food and novel nutritional formulations.
Many women from the self-help groups took part in the festival. The department had invited all the women groups that earn their livelihood and give employment to other young women.
All the participants in the festival prepared and displayed famous vegetarian dishes of Jammu and Kashmir on the stalls in order to promote the self-help groups. The aim was to encourage young girls and women toward the food business and also to raise awareness for more women to set up business units in rural areas of Jammu and Kashmir.
The festival also aimed to make them aware of the schemes of the government under which they get financial assistance to set up these units to earn and provide employment.
Indu Kanwal, the Mission Director of Jammu and Kashmir Rural Livelihoods Mission, said that the festival was organised with the motive of promoting vegetarian food in Kashmir and also creating awareness among women.
Rumina, another participant, stated that having food stalls at the festival is a very profitable venture for the young girls and that more such initiatives should be implemented.
“This provides a great platform for the young girls to set up their businesses. At this festival, we are able to earn around Rs 3000–4000 from each stall, so it’s really profitable. We would want more of such festivals to be organised,” Rumina said.
Asha, the festival coordinator, talked about the food presented at the festival.
Three Rhino statues made from burnt horns stand tall at Kaziranga park
In a one-of-its-kind move, three rhino statues at the Kaziranga National Park have been created using the ashes collected from burning rhino horns. These statues were unveiled by Assam Chief Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma along with spiritual leader Sadhguru Jaggi Vasudev on Saturday during the inauguration of a three-day Chintan Shivir at Kaziranga.
On September 22, last year, the Assam government made history by igniting a stockpile of 2,479 rhino horns to send a clear message to poachers and illegal horn traders that rhino horns have no medicinal value.
The rhino statues thus created are an attempt to immortalise the efforts and dedication of those who selflessly protect Assam’s pride, the great one-horned rhinoceros.
The Assam Chief Minister, along with Sadhguru, also opened the Kaziranga National Park for tourists for this season.
The Shivir was inaugurated with the aim of drawing a roadmap for the holistic development of the state and creating a blueprint for expediting its growth as a model for all sectors.
The Chintan Shivir over three days will have elaborate discussions and deliberations involving the Chief Minister, other Cabinet ministers, senior bureaucrats of the state, bureaucrats from other states, and functionaries from the Prime Minister’s Economic Advisory Council.
Speaking on the occasion, Assam Chief Minister Sarma said that Assam was once a very flourishing state and its state GDP growth was more than the national average.
“The per capita income of the state was also more than the national average. Though the state is contributing greatly to the growth of the nation, in the last 75 years the growth of the state has not been as encouraging as it should have been,” Sarma said.
Referring to the devastation caused by the great earthquake and subsequent floods and other developments, the Chief Minister said that all these had a negative effect on the common psychology of the people. However, making a turnaround, the present state government, with the able guidance of the central government, has unleashed a series of activities which have given new momentum to the development of the state.
The government has already embarked on a journey to steer the state to a robust growth trajectory, the Chief Minister said, adding that the state government is encouraging a vision which has emerged from that sense of responsibility.
The Assam Chief Minister thanked Sadhguru for coming all the way to Kaziranga to address the Chintan Shivir.
He said Sadguru’s wisdom and his idea would really help the government to build and promote a socio-cultural-economic and academic empowerment narrative in the state to spread the fruits of development to all sections of the state.
Sadhguru also addressed the congregation at the Chintan Shivir. The Chief Minister also signed an MoU on behalf of the state government with Sadhguru, who represented Isha Foundation. The MoU signed on the ‘Save Soil Movement’ will essentially guide the state on the sustainable use of soil for agricultural practices.
The Assam Chief Minister and Sadhguru also opened the Kaziranga National Park for tourists for this season.
On this occasion, Sadhguru led a jeep safari from Mihimukh when he drove a jeep with the Chief Minister sitting alongside.
Assam Tourism Minister Jayanta Malla Baruah was also present.
Typhoon Talas smashes Japan, leaving thousands without water, electricity, two killed
Thousands of people in central Japan were without running water and electricity on Sunday after Typhoon Talas dumped record rainfall on the area, causing floods and landslides and leaving at least two people dead.
According to the AFP’s published report, the body of a man in Kakegawa city, Shizuoka region, was pulled from what remained of his house on Saturday after a landslide destroyed it.
“Another male (in neighbouring Fukuroi city) was driving to his home (Saturday) when the water level rose and his vehicle apparently stopped. While the individual tried to walk home, he was believed to have died,” a regional disaster management official said.
He stated that another man was still unaccounted for in Kawanehoncho town, Shizuoka, after his car slid into a gap that appeared in the road. He also mentioned that three other people received minor wounds.
According to the Japan Meteorological Agency, Typhoon Talas battered central Japan on Friday and Saturday as it passed by close off the Pacific coast, pouring more than 40 centimetres (16 inches) of rain in Shizuoka villages in a single day.
Before heading back out to the Pacific on Saturday morning, it was downgraded to a depression.
Up to 120,000 homes may have lost power on Saturday as a result of the storm’s heavy rains causing landslides, including in the isolated mountains of Shizuoka. This is because several electricity pylons fell and broke as a result.
According to the local firm Chubu Electric Power, 2,910 homes in Shizuoka and the neighbouring Gifu region were still without electricity as of Sunday afternoon.
“As for those areas where restoration crews are not able to reach due to blocked roads after landslides, we will make progress while analysing the conditions of the landslides,” the utility said.
Debris choked a water inlet in Shizuoka, leaving almost 55,000 homes without running water.
“Currently, we are working to remove debris from a water inlet. But for now we are unable to give any estimate as to when it can be restored,” the regional government said in a statement Sunday morning.
Typhoons regularly cause significant damage to Japan in the summer and fall.
Typhoon Nanmadol struck southwestern Japan this weekend, leaving 147 people injured and four dead.
Top opposition leaders gather at INLD rally to challenge ‘Delhi Sultanate’
Sharad Pawar, the head of the NCP, Nitish Kumar, the chief minister of Bihar, Sitaram Yechury, and Sukhbir Singh Badal, the leader of the Shiromani Akali Dal, were among the prominent opposition figures that attended the INLD’s large gathering on Sunday in Fatehabad, Haryana.
JDU leader KC Tyagi addressed the crowd and claimed that the Bihar CM has come from Patna to challenge the Delhi Sultanate at a time when eight former Congress CMs had switched to the BJP. He claimed that Kumar has no fear of the ED, the income tax, or any other organisations.
To commemorate the birth anniversary of Devi Lal, the founder of the INLD and a former deputy prime minister, a rally is being conducted.
Tejashwi Yadav, the deputy chief minister of Bihar and the head of the RJD, as well as Arvind Sawant of the Shiv Sena, also showed up at the gathering to demonstrate the unity of the opposition.
The coming together of so many regional satraps is seen as part of efforts to forge opposition unity. Kumar and RJD president Lalu Prasad are likely to meet Congress president Sonia Gandhi after the rally to take the process forward.
Veteran socialist leader Tyagi had already declared that the gathering would be historic because it would unite like-minded forces against the BJP in the run-up to the 2024 Lok Sabha elections.
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