Centre step-motherly towards Tamil refugees; CAA arbitrary: DMK to SC

30 November, 2022 | Vaishali Sharma

mumbai National

The Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK) has complained to the Supreme Court that the Citizenship (Amendment) Act of 2019 is "arbitrary".

The Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK) has complained to the Supreme Court that the Citizenship (Amendment) Act of 2019 is “arbitrary” since it only takes into account religious minorities from three countries while retaining Sri Lankan Tamils in India as refugees.

The Central government has “categorically remained silent to the plight of the Tamil refugees. Step-motherly behaviour of Respondent No.1 (Centre) towards the Tamil refugees has left them living in constant fear of deportation and an uncertain future,” stated the affidavit filed by DMK. The DMK said that CAA is “arbitrary” as it relates to only three countries — Pakistan, Afghanistan and Bangladesh and confines to only six religions — Hindu, Sikh, Buddhist, Jain, Parsi and Christian Communities and expressly excludes Muslim religion.

Filing an affidavit before the Supreme Court in its plea challenging the CAA, DMK said that even while considering religious minorities, the Centre keeps such Tamils of Indian origin who are presently staying in India as refugees after fleeing from Sri Lanka due to persecution.

The Act is “against Tamil race” and keeps out the similarly placed Tamils who are residing in Tamil Nadu from the purview of the Act, it said.

“The impugned Act ignores the reality that for several decades Tamil refugees who have settled in Tamil Nadu are deprived with fundamental rights and other rights due to non-citizenship and due to non-naturalisation and the impugned Act does not provide for any reasons to exclude them,” stated the affidavit filed by organising secretary RS Bharati, the governing party of Tamil Nadu.

“Being stateless, they have been denied of employment in the government services or in organised private sectors, the right to hold property, right to vote, enjoyment of government benefits received by the citizens and others despite there being an agreement for the same,” it added.

Due to such an ambiguity, they are forced to stay in camps where they are often exploited having no prospects of security in future, said the DMK in its affidavit.

“The lack of jobs, access to basic rights and amenities has left these refugees handicapped and distraught. These refugees who arrived at the country of their origin i.e. India with the hope that the Indo-Sri Lankan agreements will protect them from the ensuing persecution so that they could have brighter future, discrimination free environment, better standards of life are now in far worse state than before. The requests for citizenship by these Tamil refugees who have spent years in refugee camps have fallen on deaf ears of the Centre,” it added.

It said that the reasons for their fleeing from Sri Lanka have not changed as many displaced persons escaped their country due to the large-scale violence and unsafe circumstances and came to India hoping for a better future.

The party has also said that the Act introduces a completely new basis for the grant/non-grant of citizenship on the grounds of religion, which “destroys the basic fabric of secularism”.

The Act purposefully excludes Muslims who have faced persecution in the six nations, making it extremely discriminatory and obviously arbitrary, according to the DMK.

At least 220 applications were filed against the CAA before the Supreme Court.

The CAA was enacted by Parliament on December 11, 2019, and it was received with widespread opposition. It went into effect on January 10, 2020.

A Kerala-based political party Indian Union Muslim League (IUML), DMK, Trinamool Congress MP Mahua Moitra, Congress leader and former Union minister Jairam Ramesh, All India Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen (AIMIM) leader Asaduddin Owaisi, Congress leader Debabrata Saikia, NGOs Rihai Manch and Citizens Against Hate, Assam Advocates Association, and law students, among others, had filed pleas before the top court challenging the Act.

In 2020 Kerala government had also filed a suit in the apex court becoming the first state to challenge the CAA.

The law fast-tracks the process of granting citizenship to Hindus, Sikhs, Buddhists, Jains, Parsis and Christians who fled religious persecution in Afghanistan, Bangladesh and Pakistan and took refuge in India on or before December 31, 2014.

The top court had earlier issued notice to the Centre and refused to pass an interim order staying the law without hearing the Centre.