Here is why only Afghanistan’s religious minorities must get CAA cover, not Muslim victims

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And the chorus by the usual suspects against the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) has started rising again.

“Should India’s response to the Afghanistan crisis depend on a person’s faith?”

“Should Afghan Muslim victims of the Taliban be denied refuge under the CAA?”

The short answer is yes. Here is why.

The CAA is narrow-window legislation that fast-tracks citizenship for six persecuted religious minorities from three neighbouring Islamic countries — Hindus, Christians, Sikhs, Buddhists, Jains, and Parsis. Its basis is persecution against religious minorities in Islamic Pakistan, Afghanistan and Bangladesh.

Muslims, whether they are Sunni, Shia or smaller denominations like Sufi, Ahmadiyya or Ismaili, are still Muslims and cannot be viewed as persecuted minorities under this specific, niche legislation that fast-tracks citizenship. They chose to break free from India in 1947 and be part of new Islamic nations based on their Muslim identity.

Muslims from these countries can still be naturalised as Indian citizens. They need to apply and qualify under pre-existing citizenship laws, but not the CAA.

And no, the CAA does not affect any Indian Muslim.

The CAA seeks to address unkept promises of the Nehru-Liaquat Pact of 1950 by India’s Islamic neighbours and its barbaric consequences.

The pact said refugees were allowed to return unmolested to dispose of their property; abducted women and looted property were to be returned; forced conversions were to be unrecognised; and minority rights confirmed. India kept its word. Its three Islamic neighbours allowed brazen rape, murder, conversions, land-grab and legal discrimination of minorities till their numbers dwindled to a speck.

Of Afghanistan’s 38 million population today, just 650 Sikhs and 50 Hindus remain. This is down from a 100 percent Indic population pre-Islam and 7 lakh even in the ’70s. Today, there are two or three surviving gurdwaras and just one Hindu temple.

If anybody deserves shelter under the CAA, which till now carries a 2014 entry cut-off, it is these extremely vulnerable 700-odd people. Muslims can also apply under other citizenship provisions.

The Pashtun Hindu community, for instance, has almost been wiped off. They once lived in Quetta, Loralai, Bori and Maikhter areas of Balochistan. In 1893, when the British drew the Durand Line, they were forcibly separated from their Kakari tribal brethren on the Afghanistan side. The Partition of 1947 displaced them again.

In the documentary Sheenkhalai: The Blue Skin, filmmaker Shilpi Batra Adwani traces her roots as a Pashtun Hindu woman and reunites with her long-lost grandmother.

India needs to ignore its fake secularists and protect the last of the vulnerable minorities in Afghanistan from the Taliban. Or else, 2021 will witness the farewell flicker of a dying flame.

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