Putting an end to the decades-long oppression and persecution of the Hindu minorities of Pakistan and Bangladesh, as promised in its election manifesto, the Union Government has introduced the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill 2019 in both the houses of the parliament.
In fact, the real beneficiaries of the CAA are predominantly Dalits, who constitute a majority of the Hindu population of both countries. The Act paves the way for emancipating the Dalit Hindus who have been denied civil rights and discriminated against the majority Islamic population under Islamic regimes since the Partition.
During the Partition, when Hindus of east and west Pakistan chose to take refuge in India, a large number of Dalit Hindus were forcibly held back from crossing the borders. The local Muslim population held them to back to Pakistan to carry out menial jobs such as manual scavenging. At the same time, the fanatic Muslim masses ensured upper caste Hindus with significant landholding leave the country so that they can take possession of the abandoned land and properties in the newly formed country. Even now, Dalits are still forced to do menial jobs in Pakistan and Bangladesh.
Of the total three million Hindu population of Pakistan, Dalits constitute around 80-85 per cent. There are 42 different Dalits castes in Pakistan such as Bhils, Meghwals, Odhs and Kohlis. Most Pakistani Dalits live in Sindh, with smaller numbers scattered across southern Punjab and Baluchistan. Dalit Hindus in Pakistan live in extreme poverty. More than 70 per cent of them are still illiterate. In Bangladesh, the Hindu population is calculated as around 14 million, which is about 8.5% of the total population. Of the total 14 million Hindus, more than 6-7 million are Dalits.
According to reports from Pakistan, in contrast with the upper caste Hindus, the Dalits are the worst victims of discrimination, abduction, rapes, blasphemy and poverty. Perhaps, they are the most persecuted religious minority groups in South Asia. Meanwhile, an organised and institutionalised religious persecution spearheaded by Jamaat-e-Islami has left the minorities in a wretched state of affairs in Bangladesh. The violence against Hindus, instigated by the Bangladesh Jamaat-e-Islami in Bangladesh has been rising steadily since the Bangladesh liberation war. As per reports, the majority of Hindu refugees from Bangladesh are Dalits. Almost all victims of Marichjhapi massacre, sponsored by the CPM government in West Bengal in 1979, were Dalits. It has been roughly estimated that more than 15000 Dalit refugees were brutally killed in state-sponsored violence, police gunfire, starvation, and disease.
Why Dr Babasaheb Ambedkar wanted all Dalits back to India?
The present situation of Hindu minorities in Pakistan is, in fact, a direct outcome and natural evolution of the mistakes done during Partition. The CAA seeks to offer a permanent solution to those historical mistakes. The chief architect of our Constitution Dr B R Ambedkar had foreseen the present predicament of Hindu minorities in an Islamic republic, and that is the reason why he strongly advocated for a ‘transfer of population’ between the two nations. Dr Ambedkar wanted all Dalits entrapped in Pakistan to come over to India ‘by such means as may be available to them’, reiterating that ‘to put their faith in Muslims or Muslim League’ was fatal for the Scheduled Castes. He had repeatedly warned Dalits in Pakistan and Hyderabad against being sided with Muslims simply because they disliked upper-caste Hindus, terming it ‘a mistaken view’!
“I would like to tell the Scheduled Castes who happen to be impounded inside Pakistan to come over to India by such means as may be available to them. The second thing I want to say is that it would be fatal for the Scheduled Castes, whether in Pakistan or in Hyderabad, to put their faith in Muslims or Muslim League. It has become a habit with the Scheduled Castes to look upon the Muslims as their friends simply because they dislike Hindus. This is a mistaken view,” Dr Ambedkar said. (The Free Press Journal, November 28, 1947. Cited in Dr Ambedkar: Life and Mission, Dhananjay Keer, p. 399)
Ambedkar minced no words in criticising Nehru and Congress for their Muslim appeasement policy, which directly resulted in their apathy towards Dalits. Delivering a public address at Jullunder, in October 1951, Dr Amebedkar said, “There was no place for the Scheduled Castes in the heart of the Congress Party and added that Nehru suffered from Muslim mania and his heart was pitiless to the Scheduled Castes.” (As cited in Dr Ambedkar: Life and Mission, Dhananjay Keer, p. 438)
Dr Ambedkar believed that it is impossible for a non-Muslim to live in an Islamic republic. “Islam is a close corporation, and the distinction that it makes between Muslims and non-Muslims is a very real, very positive and very alienating distinction. The brotherhood of Islam is not the universal brotherhood of man. It is the brotherhood of Muslims for Muslims only. There is fraternity, but its benefit is confined to those within that corporation. For those who are outside the corporation, there is nothing but contempt and enmity,” Babasaheb Ambedkar wrote in his magnum opus, Pakistan or Partition of India.
“According to Muslim canon Law the world is divided into two camps, Dar-ul-Islam (abode of Islam) and Dar-ul-Harb (abode of war). A country is Dar-ul-Islam when it is ruled by Muslims. A country is Dar-ul-Harb when Muslims only reside in it but are not rulers of it. That being the Canon Law of the Muslims, India cannot be the common motherland of the Hindus and the Musalmans-but it cannot be the land of the ‘ Hindus and Musalmans living as equals’. Further, it can be the land of the Musalmans only when it is governed by the Muslims. The moment the land become subject to the authority of a non-Muslims power, it ceases to be the land of the Muslims. Instead of being Dar-ul-Islam it becomes Dar-ul-Harb,” he further stated.
Substantiating his argument for a population exchange, he explained, “To the Muslims, a Hindu (and any non-Muslim) is a Kafir. A Kafir (non-believer in Islam) is not worthy of respect. He is a low born and without status. That is why a country ruled by the kafir (non-muslim) is a ‘Dar ul harb’ (i.e. the land of war) to a Muslim, which must be conquered, by any means for the Muslims and turned into ‘Dar ul Islam’ (i.e., land of Muslims alone). Given this, not further evidence seems necessary to prove that the Muslims will not obey a Hindu (or for that matter any non-Muslim) government.”
Recalling an incident from history, Dr Ambedkar argued that the ‘leading Muslims’ will always support ‘fanatic Muslims’ who commit mass murders of Hindus, because for ‘ leading Muslims’ the acts of ‘fanatic Muslims’ were ‘justifiable by the law of the Koran’. He knew that the minorities in Pakistan would not get justice even if the country is ruled by so-called moderate Muslims.
It was nothing but his concern for the lives of Dalits in a hostile nation prompted Dr Ambedkar to demand an exchange of population, referring to the transfer of population between Greece and Bulgaria. As it was on a voluntary basis, Ambedkar proposed to the leaders of both sides, a transfer of population between India and Pakistan along the same lines. With the passage of the CAA, the NDA Government has fulfilled a long pending dream of Babasaheb Ambedkar that he could not realise in his lifetime. While introducing the Citizenship Bill in Lok Sabha, Amit Shah clearly stated that the Act is not against Muslims or minorities and it does not mention them even a single time. There is scant mention about the word Muslim! The Act simply sanctions the real victims of Partition, the persecuted minorities of Bangladesh, Pakistan and Afghanistan, to stake their natural claim for citizenship in India. When the Act seeks to grant citizenship to the Dalit Hindus, whose born in servitude and die in penury, and offers them a safe and dignified life in their motherland, to which they pin their hope, why should the Congress resist it with all might? Why should the self-proclaimed Dalit leader Mayavati oppose the Act when it could save the lives of millions of Dalits who happened to the victims of Partition. Is it because the party still continues to be a prisoner of ‘Muslim-mania’ of which Dr Ambedkar had accused Nehru?