Despite repeated verbal assurances, the anti-Adivasi intent of CAA is quite evident

The combination of NRC and CAA might compel the Adivasis to convert to the mainstream religions in order to protect themselves from becoming ‘stateless’ and sent to concentration camps

Jawar Bheel
| Updated: January 20th, 2020

Student’s protests have rocked the country since the passing of Citizenship Amendment Bill (CAB) into the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA). On November 20, 2019, the Union Home Minister, Amit Shah, had stated in the Parliament that the National Register of Citizens (NRC) would be prepared for each state in the country.

This package of CAA and countrywide NRC has been criticized, opposed and protested against on various grounds such as its supposed disregard for the Indian constitution, religious discrimination and communal intent. In the North-Eastern states of India, CAA has been opposed towards protection of the indigene against migrants. But the fact that it also has created a state of turmoil for a large segment of Adivasis in the country is largely overlooked.

Religious beliefs and practices of Adivasis vary from one tribe to another and are known to be distinct from the mainstream religions practiced in India, specifically those specified in CAA.

According to the 2011 Census, Jharkhand’s total tribal population stood at 86,45,042. When looking from the religion’s perspective, 46.71 % of this population falls into the two categories of “Other religions and persuasions” and “Religion not stated”. This highlights the fact that almost half of Jharkhand’s Adivasis do not belong to the religions mentioned in CAA. Same goes for the Adivasis in other states although their percentages might vary.

So, if countrywide NRC becomes a nationwide reality and people from these categories are left out, which most probably they will be, then they will be rendered ‘stateless’ because even CAA does not provide any safety net for them. Also, adding to their existing woes, the socio-economic conditions of Adivasis heighten the probability of their exclusion from the nationwide NRC than any other group.

People protesting against CAA-NRC in Lucknow

Moreover, the combination of NRC and CAA might compel the Adivasis to convert to the mainstream religions in order to protect themselves from becoming ‘stateless’ and sent to concentration camps. This would not only be detrimental to the spirit of Constitution but also a grave injustice to distinct faiths, beliefs and practices of Adivasis in India. Despite repeated verbal assurances of the present government that it aims to protect people through CAA, its anti-adivasi intent is quite evident.

And it should be hardly surprising because these are the workings of a party aspiring to making India a ‘Hindu Rashtra’. Their inability to comprehend India’s complex social realities going far beyond their own binary of Hindu vs Muslim will certainly render the Adivasis stateless and without identity.

The people, who were the foremost inhabitants of the subcontinent, even before it got its political identity, will now have their fate decided by pieces of paper. Or it has most probably been sealed already. Babasaheb Ambedkar’s words when he said ‘Gandhiji, I have no homeland’ have never been truer.

Looking at the common discourse in mainstream media and social media, it is clear that no one is attentive to the dark uncertainty knocking at the future of Adivasis. The media that seem rather bent on reducing it to Hindu vs Muslim or secularism vs communalism debate is doing nothing but, in fact, helping the Brahminical propaganda. Babasaheb Ambedkar had said: “If Hindu Raj becomes a reality then it would be the greatest menace to this country. And we should make all-out efforts to stop Hindu Raj from becoming a reality”.

But our efforts will be futile if we do not address the issue of Adivasis. In fact, the plight of Adivasis needs to be highlighted, to show that the Brahminical project of Hindutva favours none but the privileged upper castes. That is why CAA and NRC should also be opposed for being anti-Adivasi besides other reasons.

Jawar Bheel is an IIT Bombay alumnus

(Views are personal)

The article has been sourced from Adivasi Lives Matter-Youth Ki Awaaz. You can read the original article here.