We, the Archbishops, Bishops, Heads of Churches and Leaders of Christian Denominations, gathered for the Annual General Body Meeting (AGBM) of Federation of Telugu Churches (FTC) held on March 03, 2020 at St. John’s Regional Seminary, Hyderabad, outright reject the manner in which Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA), National Registry of Citizens (NRC) and National Population Register (NPR) are proposed to be implemented at present with latest amendments and additions to their enumeration forms unlike in the past. We understand that they are closely linked together, one leading to the other as part of one process, creating fear in the most of the citizens, leading to violent protests all over our Country, and resulting in some States like U.P. and Delhi in many deaths and lot of destruction.
Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) links citizenship with religion for the first time, treating Muslims differently from other religions, violating the right to Equality and Secularism enshrined in our Constitution. Hence, Muslims across India rightly feel threatened as it will be easier now to label them illegal under NRC. This will lead to unequal citizenship to which any other religious or caste communities can easily be added in the future. While we welcome citizenship to persecuted minorities from neighbouring countries, this should be done without excluding anyone and irrespective of one’s religious or ideological affiliations. We also accept the need to check the infiltrators, illegal migrants, extremists and terrorists to whichever religious or ideological group they may belong. The existing Citizenship Rules already have sufficient provisions to do this and it can also be verified whether they seek refuge in our country due to persecution or not. The latest Amendment to the Citizenship Act which excludes Muslims goes against the very soul of our Nation and the spirit of Indian Civilization which has always cherished the values of hospitality, inclusiveness, tolerance and acceptance of all without any discrimination and differentiation.
With changes being made to them, the present NPR and NRC processes affect everyone, not only Muslims. They are hazardous to anyone who cannot show the documents of their birth and of their parents. As it has already happened in Assam, those who are poor, landless, women, minorities, Dalits, Adivasis, illiterates, and nomadic and migrant communities will be most affected to which ever religion they may belong. There is a lurking grave danger that most of them would be labelled “doubtful citizens”, and end up losing their citizenship and along with it their basic fundamental rights such as rights to vote and own property, and the constitutional privileges such as reservations. Thus, this process will result in the supremacy and domination of the Hindu “upper castes” and lead toward establishing Hindu Rastra and undermine the Ambedkarian Constitution that was born out of Independent Struggle.
While we reject the present process of CAA, NPR and NRC, and ask the people to do the same by warning them of the dangers inherent in it, we demand that the Governments, both at the Centre and States, stop the whole process until the threats and fears are allayed, and proper assurances, needed amendments and required guarantees are put in place.
Rev. Fr Dr Anthoniraj Thumma & Mr B. Danam IAS (Retd)
Executive Secretaries of FTC.