Linking Religion to Citizenship Gross Violation of Constitution: Yechury

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CPI(M) general secretary Sitaram Yechury also came down heavily on the Delhi Police for its alleged highhandedness against the protesting JNU students. — Caravan Daily

The Citizenship Amendment Bill is a gross violation of the Constitution and CPI(M) will oppose it inside and outside Parliament, says Sitaram Yechury in an interaction with ‘Caravan Daily’

Abdul Bari Masoud | Caravan Daily

NEW DELHI — The CPI(M) on Monday termed the proposed Citizenship Amendment Bill as a “gross violation” of the Constitution and said the party will oppose the bill tooth and nail. Party also condemned the police action on students of the Jawaharlal Nehru University protesting a fee hike. The CPI(M) also announced a month-long mass campaign against the large scale privatization of the public sector assets.

Briefing the media about the politburo’s decisions after its meeting at the party headquarters here, CPI(M) general secretary Sitaram Yechury came down heavily on the Delhi Police for its alleged highhandedness against the protesting JNU students.

“This is Modi’s emergency. The number of police personnel present at the spot of the protest is higher than what we saw during the Emergency. This is not the right way to deal with democratic protests. The Modi government is trying to provoke the students,” he said.

He said peaceful demonstration was a democratic right. “The beating up of students showed the use of extreme authoritarianism on the part of the government,” said Yechury, who was the JNU students union president during Emergency.

On the citizenship bill that is likely to be introduced by the Modi government in the ongoing winter session of the Parliament which started on Monday, Yechury said linking citizenship with religion was against the Constitution. “The Constitution does not allow discrimination on the basis of religion, race and creed. The bill is a gross violation of the Constitution and we will oppose it inside and outside Parliament.”

SABARIMALA

On the Supreme Court order to refer the review petitions on Sabarimala women entry verdict to a seven-member bench, CPI(M) general secretary Yechury said there was ambiguity in the court’s order. He felt it was unnecessarily expanding the scope of issue by adding other religions’ practices too for the consideration of the seven-member bench. His reference was to the SC decision to refer the plea from Muslim women for right to worship in mosques and a similar plea by Parsi women for right to enter their fire temples.

“Instead of disposing of the review petitions, the majority judgment, deviating from the norm, has widened the scope by making a reference to various points concerning religious rights under the Constitution to a seven-member bench. The minority judgment of two members has categorically rejected all the review petitions and upheld the 2018 judgment on Sabarimala,” Yechury said.

Yechury said that by clubbing the Sabarimala matter to issues concerning women’s rights of other religions, which were already being heard by other benches of the court, the majority judgment of the SC constitution bench has failed to uphold the 2018 September Sabarimala verdict. And by keeping the review petitions pending, it has created an ambiguous and uncertain situation,” he said.

KASHMIR

On the situation in Kashmir, he said it was now more than hundred days since the restrictions on communication, public transport etc was imposed on the state following abrogation of Article 370 on August 5. “ The CPI (M) demands the complete lifting of all restrictions imposed on the state, as these continue to affect the normal life and activities of the people,” he said.

“Internet and even SMS messaging continue to remain barred. This is grievously affecting the state’s economy, which is largely dependent on tourism and the sale of cash crops like fruits and saffron,” he said.

The CPI(M) leader said that annually, on an average, apple trade in Kashmir was in the range of Rs. 10,000 crore. “This is totally ruined. The BJP government must declare this as a national calamity and compensate the apple growers,” he said.

He said the CPI(M) also demanded that all the political leaders detained inside or outside Kashmir on August 5 or later should be released forthwith; and that there be complete restoration of democratic rights and civil liberties guaranteed by the constitution.

RAFALE

On the Rafael deal, he said  the party reiterated its demand for the constitution of a joint parliamentary committee to investigate the charges. He said the Indian economy has entered a stage of recession but the Modi government continues to remain in a state of denial even as the GDP growth showed a decline for over two quarters. “The government is indulging in gross data fudging and the lack of data credibility is additionally hitting India’s global ratings,” he said.

 On the new education policy, he said the CPI(M) was opposed to the drastic changes in the education policy. “This new policy contains proposals that are detrimental to India’s future and makes education a privilege rather than a right for the people, particularly our children.”

UAPA

He also criticised the “draconian” UAPA or Unlawful Activities Prevention Act, saying the party had always opposed such laws in parliament and would continue to do so.  He said the recent amendment effected to the law was more dangerous as “the government can declare anybody a terrorist.” When his attention was drawn to Kerala, where the Leftist government headed by his party has been using this law against the minorities, he feigned ignorance. He said the state government “understands the party stand on this.”  He also admitted that the minorities, particularly Muslims, have been the target of such brutal laws.

The CPI(M) leader said the politburo of his party called upon all party units to organize a month-long movement of protests, conventions and agitations against the large-scale privatization of the public sector units, in December 2019. This month-long movement, he said, must culminate in the party’s support to the January 8, 2020 all-India strike called by the central trade unions.

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