Shimla– People and local media in Himachal Pradesh are not ready to accept the claims made by Director General of Police, HP, and Special Investigation Team (SIT) that real culprits of Kotkhai rape and murder case are arrested, and the case is actually solved. Locals, media persons, and several other sources are sensing a conspiracy to save some or all real culprits.
As per fresh reports, people in Theog took to the road protesting against the police, and pelted stone on the local police station. Allegedly, people scuffled with the police officials and damaged a police vehicle. The entire traffic was blocked on the NH 5 and people demanded Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) inquiry, showing disbelief in state police and law agencies.
People reactions and their doubts seem genuine considering the twists this entire case has taken. There remains ambiguity in police investigation report and final claim of SIT that all actual culprits are behind bars.
Here are some of the questions that people and media want the HP Police to clarify:
Who were the 4 persons, the photos of whom were posted by Chief Minister as suspects?
On Thursday evening, four photos were allegedly posted on Chief Minister Virbhadra Singh’s official and verified Facebook Page, accompanying text claimed them to be the four suspects behind horrifying case of gang-rape and murder of the school girl. The photos were soon deleted once they went viral. Now, the public is asking who these persons were, and why their photos were shared by the CM.
It’s hard to believe that Chief Minister’s personal IT Cell including his IT adviser, Gokul Butail shared those images without any confirmation from the SIT. Is CM’s IT Cell foolish enough to pick random photos from social media or WhatsApp and post them on the claims made by social media? It’s very difficult to believe.
Secondly, Chief Minister hasn’t taken any responsibility about the alleged posting of photos. Neither did his IT Cell or he deem it necessary to explain the reason behind such reckless posting on social media. Who were those four persons and why they are not in scene anymore?
Moreover, these four persons are completely silent over the matter. One of them deleted his status in which he had pleaded innocent, while choose to remain silent. As a natural response, after arrest of all six culprits, these persons should have updated people on social media about authentication of their claims of innocence in such a heinous crime, but they haven’t.
What about previous theory cited by SIT?
Since the discovery of girl’s body from the Halaila woods, police claimed to have worked on several aspects. A day before the police press conference, police inputs were suggesting that the girl was possibly abducted in a vehicle and the crime was committed at the house of some influential person.
Reports had clearly mentioned inputs of the SIT claiming that the house was traced on the basis of call details and call dump of nearest cellphone towers.
Inputs had also claimed that police had traced the vehicle in which the girl’s dead body was transported to the spot where it was found. Police had suggested a theory that the crime was not committed at the spot where her body was found, and that the body was transported in a vehicle to the spot.
A News18 report on Friday morning claimed that one of victim’s socks was recovered from Ashish’s house (first arrested accused).
Now, people and media are asking where have the house, vehicle, and recovered socks disappeared at the last moment?
Ashish Chauhan was first to be arrested, but police didn’t reveal how he was related to the crime
It’s a very genuine question: How is it possible that police doesn’t know the role of the first arrested accused? On what basis was Ashish arrested if he isn’t linked to the crime directly? Police said, Ashish had information about the crime and people involved. But, if he was not involved, then how did he possess the information?
At the press conference, the police clearly said it doesn’t have details regarding the involvement and role of Ashish in the crime at this point, and that the investigation is still on.
People want to know why the role of Ashish wasn’t disclosed when he was the first man arrested by the SIT.
If Nepalese were involved, then why they left the body near their own settlement? Why didn’t they flee from the village?
Public isn’t convinced that all accused were migrant laborers including two Nepalese. Initially police had suggested that the body was dumped near a Nepalese settlement to misguide investigation and put the blame on laborers. Why they would dump the body in open, just 200 meters from their own settlement if they were the actual culprits?
People also want to know that if the culprits were migrant laborers, why didn’t they run away after committing such a heinous crime?
No one would try to rape and murder a victim just 100 meters from road in broad daylight
A local journalist employed with a Hindi Daily has raised several questions in his Facebook post he posted after the press conference. He argued that the spot of crime cited by SIT is just 100 meters from the nearest motorable road, and is partially visible from the road. Moreover, the Nepalese settlement is also very near, about 200 meters from the spot.
People are questioning the possibility of such gruesome crime on a vulnerable location in broad daylight?
Why animals didn’t eat up or mauled the body in two days?
Except the habitation, the entire region is a dense forest reportedly full of wild animals like leopards, bears, and wild dogs. As per the SIT, the crime was committed on July 4, and the girl died on the same day. Her body was found on the morning of July 6, which brings us to a question: possibly how was the body not mauled by animals if it remained dumped there for two nights?
Conspiracy to save real culprits, who belong to well-to-do families
Public and media are concluding all these arguments as an intentional effort by SIT to save the real culprits. Some unofficial and unconfirmed local sources are speculating that the laborers were offered ridiculous amount of money in exchange of false confession. People are also demanding that bank account details of parent’s of four suspects should be investigated as they might have done heavy transactions, perhaps worth crores, during these days.
Top Photo: Amar Ujala
“When Our Country is Burning in Silent Phase”
2020 is upon in a haste
When our country is
Burning in silent phase
Our doors are closed on
A religion, few nations chosen
And you and I stand without treason
Yes, on the road a few
At work some unable to chew
This unconstitutional view
Our country’s regime
Has thought and holds due
Basing someone’s identity
On his attire
How shrewd will we be
You have the golden number
But fret the day
When we stand a count
Not long will you have a sigh
You’ll be heading to the door neigh
Power is yours
But not your virtue
In the helm you are
Take control but sanely
And uplift our glorious country
Your deeds have put us in upheaval
Steady the ship ‘coz
We’r not going to be for long in slumber
We choose not to see
But our eyes don’t wear a veil
If you choose to fail
Us again in this run
We have certain chutzpah
And it’s not going to be fun
CAA and NRC – A Dissent on Grounds of Equality and Fraternity
Shimla- In the past few days, there has been unrest in the country over two actions of the parliament i.e firstly, due to introduction of a law called Citizen Amendment Act (CAA), which deals with granting of citizenship to refugees, and secondly, due to the declaration that India will soon have a register of citizens (NRC) where all citizens will have to prove their citizenship with documentary evidence.
About 60 petitions already stand filed in the Supreme Court challenging the (CAA) law. This is the first time in the history of the nation that religion has been considered as a determining factor for grant of privileges in a state enactment. The concern of the people is whether there exists a threat to fundamental values of “fraternity”, “equality”, and “secularism” upon which this nation is built upon. The question is “Whether Something which is not allowed to be done directly is being done indirectly i.e exclusion on the basis of religion in the grant of citizenship”.
Another decision of the Government, the “NRC (National Register of Citizen)” is being sought to be imposed nationwide. This exercise has costed public funds from between 1200 Cr to 1600 Cr in Assam already. It has also led to 40 lakh people being declared stateless by the Government in the first instance, just in Assam. This exercise was, however, erroneously done, and on re-checking, the Courts found that the number was actually 19 lakh. There was an error of 20 lakh “Human Beings”, who stood declared stateless.
The number of deportation affected by this entire exercise of NRC in Assam has been found to be negligible. This begs the question, what is the need for conducting such an expensive and unreliable process and whether the present decisions of parliament are even necessary. Most importantly, if Acts themselves at all are permissible from the perspective of constitutionality, humanity and ethical standards.
Citizen Amendment Act (CAA)
The Law as it Was Before The Amendment:
The law before the amendment essentially said:
If you are in India and you are a non-citizen, without relevant papers, then you are an “illegal immigrant” and, in that case, you have no right be in the country and you are liable to be subjected to be detained and ultimately deported.
Exception to the above rule was;
If one could show that he was a person who was in India, and had come to India due to legitimate fear of being persecuted on any ground in the home country, then he would be eligible for a long term visa. The idea was that if someone is a refugee fearing persecution, then he can stay in India on long term visa basis and the case would be evaluated on ‘case by case basis’.
Notably and rightly so, “religion” had no role to play in the unamended law whatsoever.
The New Law
The 2019 amendment changes the above provision/ position. It creates classes of people who would be entitled to immunity. These classes have been made on the bases of “Religion and Nationality”.
The amendment draws the distinction between persecuted people who have been living in the country from, on or before, December 31, 2014. It puts them into two categories and says that; one category who are of a particular religion and nationality would be entitled to benefit in “grant of Indian citizenship” and other sets of people who belong to certain “Religion and Nationality”, would be ineligible for immunity in “grant of citizenship”.
The Act also reduces the requirement of residence in India for citizenship by naturalisation from 11 years to five years for these particular communities.
Classes of People Who Stand Excluded by Virtue of Section 2 (B) of CAA 2019, are:
1. On the basis of Religion–Anyone who is not a Hindus, Sikhs, Buddhists, Jains, Parsis, and Christians. The exclusion of Muslims, Atheists or any other religion is apparent.
2. On the basis of Nationality – a classification based on country, by restricting the benefit of acquiring citizenship through naturalisation to minority immigrants only from Afghanistan, Pakistan and Bangladesh.
In other words, it says that for certain classes of people there is no immunity from being deemed illegal immigrants, and these classes of people can be denied citizenship and coupled with NRC they can even be put in detention centres or deported to their home country.
Due to such grave consequences, a closer examination of this classification made by the State warrants scrupulous scrutiny.
Violation of Equality
In the new law, the distinction is drawn between “persecuted people living within India” as refugees from before 2014. Amongst these persecuted people, one set is given benefit by the state and the other set is not. The distinction between persecuted people has been drawn just on the basis of religion and nationality. In a secular country, religion cannot become the basis of granting or denying privileges to any person, be it citizen or a non-citizen. This idea goes against the mandate of “Fraternity”, “Equality” and “ Secularism” hence violates the basic structure along with various other constitutional provisions.
It is a settled position/principle of law that whenever there is an exclusion on the basis of classification then;
a. There must be a yardstick to differentiate between those included in and excluded from the group, and
b. That yardstick must itself be reasonable.
Where a legislation discriminates on the basis of an “intrinsic and core trait” of an individual, which in the present case is religion, it violates the “Right to Equal Protection from Laws”. This protection is available to non-citizens settled in India also. Classification based on religion does not form a reasonable classification based on an intelligible differentia.
Therefore, the yardstick is reasonable only if it is not based on an “intrinsic and core trait” of an individual such as religion or sex, this is a constitutional limitation placed on the power of the State.
The determining principle for granting citizenship can never be religion, the only relevant factor was ‘persecution’, as it was in the unamended law.
Citizenship can be granted on the grounds of birth, descent, persecution, and naturalisation alone. Bringing religion as a criterion for granting citizenship cuts through the guarantees of Fraternity, Equality, and Secularism which form the basic structure of our constitution.
For example, if you have 10 people living in India as refugees from the past 40 years, all of them have been persecuted. Now you want to save them; you can choose to save all of them or none. However, if you chose to save few and not save the others, then those few who are excluded cannot be excluded purely on grounds of their religion, there has to be some other basis of making this choice. In the old law, it was just persecution. A secular state is bound by principles of secularism and cannot make decisions based on the identity of religion.
It is a capricious and unconstitutional law supported by impermissible sense of purpose. Few important legal positions are;
1. It is incorrect to say that the Act only applies to non-citizens and that Indians need not worry about it. Even though CAA does not at present impact Indian citizens, it impacts human beings who are living in India, who are being treated unequally and the State is acting against the fundamental fabrics of our constitution in handing out such treatment.
If you are a Hindu who came from Pakistan 50 years ago, you get immunity from being an illegal immigrant but if you are a similarly situated Ahamadia or Sufi or Atheist from Pakistan/ Afghanistan/Bangladesh, you don’t get immunity. Such a law cannot be passed by a secular nation.
2. It is incorrect to say that law is inclusive and seeks to benefit immigrants. On the contrary, the irrationality of exclusion is apparent from the fact that now, if a person is suffering from the wrong type of persecution, he won’t get immunity. Persecution in itself is not enough as it earlier was when the old law was in force. Now a determination of citizenship grant is made dependent upon a fact-finding probe into an individual’s religious beliefs.
A human being who has been persecuted have been divided unreasonably, arbitrarily into impermissible categories (religion), hence benefit is being denied in violation of Article 14.
3. The amendment arbitrarily pics up the three nations without any rationale. If you are a persecuted person living in India and you belong to the privileged group of countries, only then you get this immunity and if you don’t belong to these three countries, then you don’t get this immunity. These three countries are not the only neighbouring countries where people have been subjected to violence and religious persecution, for example, Tamils And Rohingyas, or Buddhists from Tibet. There is a ‘pick and choose’ method without having any determining basis or underlying rationale in selecting these three countries. Religious persecution has happened in other countries around us and there are people settled in India, from other countries, who are being excluded from this benefit. This action of exclusion on the basis of nationality is manifestly arbitrary as there is no basis for choosing these three particular countries.
4. The inclusion of a few religions and nationalities is a welfare measure, but the problem is that persons who are equally entitled to get this immunity are being denied of this protection. This offends the equality principle and is discriminatory.
5. It is an incorrect argument to say that Policy matter cannot be tested upon the constitution and cannot be struck down on being arbitrary. The most fundamental principle of equality is that every person in India is entitled to equal protection of laws. Equal protection of law allows the govt to draw certain classifications, which must be reasonable, non-arbitrary and with a defined purpose.
If the purpose of this act is to save people from persecution then it cannot draw these distinctions. And if the purpose of the act is to save only certain religions from persecution, then the purpose itself becomes discriminatory, being only on grounds of religion. On this ground alone, the policy can be struck down.
Is a Law/Policy Undermining Fraternity Constitutionally Permissible?
A law can be struck down if it violates the basic structure of the constitution. One of the basic features of the Constitution along with “Equality” is “Fraternity” which is mentioned in its preamble. Fraternity is a prime value from where other principles like secularism take root. It is the first time in the history of the country that a law has been passed where the “determining principle” of classification of human beings is on the basis of their “religion” alone. This has naturally caused unrest in the country, but among the protests, the voices of “unity of religions” and “brotherhood” are being raised. The voices counter a “Law” which on the face of it, is being perceived to be against the unity of the nation and drawn on communal grounds. As mentioned earlier, law cannot solely be based on religion, as that would violate the equality principle and Article 14. In addition, this law also offends the principle of fraternity.
In a country such as India, with several disruptive forces, such as religion, caste and language, the idea of fraternity is imperative for ensuring “unity of the nation”, through a shared feeling of a common brotherhood.
According to various decisions of the courts this value has been understood to be of prime importance, though not many precedents exist. None the less, there are few which have given the meaning of this principle and have applied it for circumventing State’s power.
Looking at the issue raised in the present case, this principle can be expounded by the Apex court, as the heart of this problem lies in the values of “fraternity and brotherhood” amongst human beings.
According to the jurisprudential understanding, a fraternal bond is one that does not relate to the shared use of goods but rather a shared feeling that is intrinsic to the existence and functioning of the agents themselves. Any law which undermines or poses a threat to fraternity should outrightly be struck down as the other two great values of “liberty and equality” become illusory in the absence of the fundamental value of fraternity.
Drawing the relation between these three fundamental values, it is said that;
a) Liberty without fraternity, for instance, would bestow upon individuals unlimited powers to pursue individual aspirations, without regard to community sentiments and considerations.
b) Equality without fraternity is characterised as a ‘barbaric’ equality, as individuals would have no consideration for the standing of other disadvantaged persons.
In light of this, it becomes imperative to ask that;
a) How have the courts interpreted the rights granted on the basis of fraternity?
b) Can a law be struck down as it offends the “guaranteed commitment to fraternity” in our Constitution?
c) Have the Courts directed the State to frame policies keeping these principles and constitutional limitations in mind?
The answers to the above questions can be found in the decisions of the Hon’ble Supreme Court. A Couple of important ones are discussed below;
In S.R. Bommai v. Union of India, amongst several conclusions the Court arrived at, it declared that the principle of secularism was an essential feature of the basic structure of the Constitution. In arriving at that conclusion, the Court employed the principle of fraternity in a variety of contexts to assert that the idea of fraternity is a precursor to the attainment of secularism. The Court explained that the inclusion of secular ideals in constitutional provisions was not a product of mere chance but was consciously deliberated upon by the framers in response to the religious foundations of Pakistan. In substantiating this claim, the Court stated that India was historically a country where religious tolerance and a culture of fraternity existed, and the inclusion of secular provisions was accordingly a natural one.
The Court also established that “secularism is the bastion to build fraternity”, and therefore asserted that secular practice and thinking between diverse religious groups, would aid in the fraternal relations between those communities. The outcome of such religious tolerance would have a double impact on fraternity: it would ensure both the unity of the nation through peaceful interaction and the dignity of each citizen.
The Court held that the Constitution strives towards the promotion of secular ideals that would ensure fraternal relations which is the ultimate goal of the framers.
In the Nandini Sundar Case the Courts employed the idea of fraternity in three distinct fashions:
a. As a buffer to unchecked state power;
b. As a mechanism to promote more inclusive policy by the State and finally
c. To reinforce the Centre’s responsibility of upholding human rights in a federal structure.
The governmental policies that disempower humans on the basis of religion are against the constitutional vision. The constitution mandates that power must vest in the State for the welfare of all and not few. The constitutional vision of welfare must be achieved, according to the promotion of fraternity.
The judges in Nandani Sunder case further added that when state power is not exercised in a responsible manner, then there is an inevitable breach of Articles 14 and 21. In using fraternity in such a manner, the Court has elevated the idea of fraternity to a constitutional principle and not merely a noble declaration. In drawing a clear link between unchecked state power and Articles 14 and 21, the Court has created a nexus between the threat to fraternity and a consequent breach of fundamental rights.
The Court also employed the principle of fraternity to judicially review the policy of the State, it stated that it was the responsibility of the Government to ensure the security and integrity of the nation by means which were within the four corners of the Constitution.
The Court in the issue at hand can certainly adjudicate on the basis of the principles mentioned in the above two cases and further expound it. The Courts have the duty to preserve constitutional morality which here is an idea of a “unified nation”, where a culture of fraternity flourishes. Hence any policy of the Government which gives rise to “disaffection and dissatisfaction” from its citizens and is a threat to the unity and secular ethos is liable to be struck down on this ground alone.
NRC National Register of Citizens
Assam is a border state and is suffering from the problem of immigration. In the 70s and 80s, the immigration problem led to a strong movement in Assam, which ended with “Assam Accord”. The part of the agreement between Assam and Indian union was the preparation of NRC, which essentially was an exercise of identifying “citizen of India in Assam” and rest who were “non-citizens”.
What we have seen in the last five years is that this NRC process has led to widespread exclusion and disenfranchisement. This is because the NRC procedure relies on documents, the documentary evidence showing that you are a citizen of India.
In a country like India with widespread illiteracy and poverty, this is a very difficult task. The most vulnerable people will be up for exploitation and harassment.
In Assam, the experience shows that 19 lakh people have been left stranded as ‘stateless non-citizens,’ as they have no documents. Amount of more than 1200 crores have been spent on this exercise with negligible deportation. More worrisome is the fact that 20 lakh people in Assam were found to be wrongly excluded by the Supreme Court in this exercise.
Can NRC go National as the Home Minister Has Suggested?
Data collected till now highlights three major issues which have come in the implementation of NRC in Assam, these are;
1. The most marginalised suffer the most and
2. The women suffer more than men due to insufficient documentation
3. A negligible amount of people are actually deported, and the law does not even serve its purpose efficiently even after consuming lots of time and public money.
Hence, if data shows that these two oppressed groups are the most affected by such an exercise and there has been no good benefit achieved, then implementing the same in the rest of the country is totally illogical.
If you combine CAA and NRC, what you get is that if you are a non-Muslim, who has been left out of NRC, then you still have a possible path of citizenship from CAA. A class of people gets automatic immunity based on religion and nationality. If you are a Muslim, atheist, etc., you are completely ruled out even if you belong to these countries. Ultimately, you are subjected to deportation, or you are put in detention camps. It’s relevant to point out here that the condition of detention camps is terrible and inhumane and is a separate issue in itself.
CAA read alone is discriminatory as it discriminates between persecuted people and divides them in an impermissible category on arbitrary grounds.
The amendment to citizenship Act has brought about disaffection, dissatisfaction and fear in a class of people and has caused unrest in the country. There is internet shutdown (which amounts to the curtailment of the right to speech and expression) in various parts of the country and Section 144 stands imposed in few states. We have an exercise like NRC which wrongly excluded 20 lakh, people, from being a citizen. Now, this is being proposed for the whole country, in the coming days. Worryingly, this might lead to the biggest statelessness crisis of the world causing immense human suffering.
A class is being discriminated on the basis of religion, by state action. The law is arbitrarily neglecting certain communities which is against the Fraternal and Secular values of our country.
The role of the courts as the bastion of fundamental values of the nation is about to be tested. In such times, our commitment to “fundamental duty” and the true values of our country i.e brotherhood and unity and non-violent protests are also under test.
Voices Rising in Himachal Against Citizenship Act, NRC Amid Nationwide Protest
Shimla-The resistance to Bharatiya Janata Party-led Indian Government’s controversial Citizenship Act, 2019, continues to grow as more and more people pour in on roads to join protests. Today violent protests were reported in Lucknow in which several vehicles were set ablaze and stones were pelted on the police. One protester was said to have died during the clash with police. Police is also facing hard-time in controlling the situation as protests continue to grow larger.
The politics is at its cheapest with the sabotage of peaceful protests through anti-social elements and BJP’s IT Cell trolling anyone who does not support CAA. Police forces are also bearing the brunt of this contentious legislation with reports of injuries to policemen during clashes with protesters.
Protesting voices are also rising in Himachal Pradesh with students of Himachal Pradesh University and some other organizations holding protests in Shimla.
On December 17, the Himachal Pradesh unit of All India Lawyers Union (AILU) had expressed its solidarity with the students of Jamia-Millia-Islamia, JNU, Delhi University, Aligarh Muslim University and all other educational institutes protesting against the CAA and NRC. AILU said it is the right of the students to protest against this amendment which is contrary to the secular structure of India and the basic structure of the Indian Constitution.
Today, students affiliated to Student Federation of India burned an effigy of the Home Minister, Amit Shah, at the Summerhill Chowk as a protest against the CAA and NRC. The students also condemned barbaric police action against students of Jamia Millia Islamia Central University. The students said the new Act is outrightly an attack on the Indian constitution’s secular structure. The Act contradicts Article 14 of the Indian Constitution, they argued.
Students asked as to why only persecution wasn’t made a criterion for granting citizenship instead of favouring some religions except for one.
Reportedly, cases were filed against several students over this protest.
The nation has begun to burn in the communal fire sparked by this decision of the Centre Government, the students said.
Akhil Bharatiya Janvadi Mahila Samiti also staged a protest against CAA across the State on December 19. In Shimla, a protest was staged by the Samiti in front of the Office of Deputy Commissioner, Shimla.
The Samiti alleged that this Act was introduced in a time when unemployment is at its peak, the nation’s economy is in the state of coma, and the rate of crime against women is growing consistently. The Samiti argued that education has become more expensive, thus, unaffordable for the poor. At the same time, the government is making cuts in the education budget and inflation is burdening the plebeian, it said.
The Samiti said the Central government deliberately introduced this Act to distract the media and the public from real issues.
This government is dividing the nation on the basis of religion, region, and cast.
The Samiti demanded the withdrawal of the legislation at the earliest.
In the evening today, CPI(M) along with Jamiat Ulema-e-Hind, Muslim Sudhar Samiti, and some other groups held a separate protest outside the DC Office, Shimla.
CPI(M) said that the Modi-led Centre government is implementing agendas of RSS and setting the nation ablaze in communal fire, and the CAA clearly confirms it.
Under Article 14 of the Indian Constitution, every citizen has equal rights irrespective of their religion or caste, the State Secretary, CPI(M), Dr Onkar Shad said.
Families, especially economically weaker sections of minority and landless, would suffer most due to this discriminatory decision of the government to exclude one religion in the legislation, he said.
North-Eastern states will be affected adversely due to this CAA and NRC, he said.
He further said that as public is coming out on streets to protest against this discriminatory act, the government is resorting to use of police force to suppress their voices. The brutality of Delhi police in Jamia Millia Islamia case confirms that this government is inclined towards Fascist and dictatorial ideologies instead of upholding democratic values and respect the Indian Constitution, he further added.
He made a call to come out in protest against CAA and NCR in large numbers to give a befitted reply to the Centre Government.
Amid widespread protests in India against the Act, hundreds of protestors were detained by the police. Fearing more public protests, the government has gone on to impose Section 144 in Bengaluru, Uttar Pradesh and parts of Delhi to suppress resistance. Mobile services were suspended in some parts of Delhi as protesters marched towards the Red Fort.
However, protestors did not stop marching despite the enforcement of Section 144. A large number of educational institutes have now joined the protest across the nation.
A massive protest was reported from Bengaluru’s Town Hall despite the imposition of Section 144. In Mangaluru city, several policemen are said to have sustained injuries and two civilians were in ICU due to violent clashes.
Intellectuals and legal experts are of the opinion that this fire was ignited by the BJP Government’s paranoia to make India a Hindu Rastra by amending the Citizenship Act, 1955, which required an applicant to have resided in India for 11 years to gain citizenship.
There is a strong opinion that the government could have avoided exclusion on the basis of religion and damaging secular principals enshrined in the Constitution.
As per this legislation all persecuted Hindus, Parsis, Sikhs, Buddhists, Jains, and Christians who arrived in India before December 31, 2014, from Bangladesh, Pakistan, or Afghanistan, would be given citizenship even if they do not possess any documents. However, this list does not include persecuted Muslims.
Another debate arising is that instead of mentioning religion as a criterion for granting citizenship, the government could have mentioned “immigrant religious minorities”.
Amid all chaos, the most relevant question is whether there was an emergency due to which India needed this new Act and NRC? The NRC in Assam took a decade and Rs 1,200 crore before it was completed. In order to implement this process across the nation, it would not only consume an insane amount of money but a large number of government employees and machinery too.
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