Hindu tradition puts educators on a very high pedestal. They are seen not only as imparters of knowledge but as upholders of truth and as role models. Therefore, when the Hindu community comes across academics who knowingly and maliciously partake in promoting blatant lies, it finds it hard to process it. This article is about one such incident.
Academics are treated with reverence and respect around the world because they are regarded as the custodians of all that is just and right. It is even more so in India, where we literally say आचार्य देवो भव, meaning “Teachers are like Gods.” The education they impart is not just in the form of texts they teach but also as a living example.
They are supposed to be the upholders of truth. However, these days academics around the world are often found lying and propagating false information, sometimes despite ample evidence of the truth. An academic or two lying here or there could be ignored, but what would you say if I told you that thousands of academics lent their names to a lie? What if I told you that every single line of their statement is baseless with plenty of evidence refuting it, and yet they lied with impunity? What would your reaction be? In this paper, we talk about one such instance where 10,000 academics from across the world came together to endorse a blatant white lie
On December 11, 2019, the Indian Parliament passed the Citizenship Amendment Act (henceforth referred to as CAA), which is meant to fast-track the citizenship of the Hindu, Sikh, Christian, Jain, Buddhist, and Parsi refugees from Pakistan, Bangladesh, and Afghanistan, who had come to India as refugees prior to Dec 31, 2014.
While it is advisable to read the act in its entirety, I would like to highlight a few key points here in order to set the context for this paper.
Some of the pertinent points of the Act are the following:
- This Act pertains only to the Hindu, Sikh, Christian, Buddhist, Jain, and Parsi minorities of Pakistan, Bangladesh, and Afghanistan who came to India as refugees prior to December 31, 2014.
- The Act only “fast tracks” their citizenship process, for which they already were eligible, from 11 years to 5 years.
- The Act has nothing to do with Indian citizens and has no bearing on Muslim citizens of India.
- The Act also has nothing to do with those people from the neighboring countries, including Muslims, who wish to apply legally for a VISA to come to India, and are otherwise eligible to get one.
- Muslims who come to India as refugees from the aforementioned countries can still apply for citizenship via the normal route with an 11-year wait.
- It does not apply to tribal regions of North East India and Assam, which are protected under a different Act.
- Most importantly, the act does not bar anyone from seeking Indian citizenship via legal means.
Need for an Act like CAA in the First Place
While talking about CAA, it is necessary to talk about why this act and these amendments were needed to begin with. The very need for the act was because of the persecution the Hindus, Sikhs, Jains, Buddhists, Parsis, and Christians face in Pakistan, Bangladesh, and Afghanistan. In other words, this act was needed to help the persecuted “Non-Muslims” in the Muslim countries in the neighborhood.
As this report, aptly titled “Cleansing of Pakistan’s Minorities”  mentions,
At the time of partition in 1947, almost 23 percent of Pakistan’s population was comprised of non-Muslim citizens. Today, the proportion of non-Muslims has declined to approximately 3 percent…. Non-Muslim minorities such as Christians, Hindus and Sikhs have been the targets of suicide bomb attacks on their neighborhoods, [have] had community members converted to Islam against their will, and [have] had their houses of worship attacked and bombed even while they were inhabited by worshipers.
This report was published on July 31, 2013, much before the current government came into power in India, lest someone accuse the report of being biased. This blatant attack on the human rights of the non-Muslim population of the three Islamic countries is why an act like the CAA was needed in the first place. Many concerned individuals and small organizations have written about the plight of Hindu refugees from Pakistan who have fought a daily battle of survival against brutal human rights violations in these countries and escaped with nothing more than their faith intact. They lost their property, and their places of worship had their family members killed, their daughters kidnapped, and their dignity stripped. That they are forced to flee from the land of their ancestors, and that this is why an act like CAA was needed in India, to begin with, does not even get a mention in the petition below.
Origins of the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA)
It would be pertinent to point out here that this protection of the non-Muslim minorities of the three Islamic countries, as covered by the Citizenship Amendment Act, was recommended to the Government of India by none other than Mahatma Gandhi himself, not once but twice in 1947. This was quoted by the Honorable Prime Minister of India, Mr. Narendra Modi, in the parliament, during the parliamentary debate over CAA. It was also mentioned by the honorable governor of Kerala, Mr. Arif Mohammad: “This was a promise made by Mahatma Gandhi and Pt. Jawaharlal Nehru, to the Hindus, Sikhs, and Christians of Pakistan, Bangladesh, and Afghanistan. The current government has merely honored a 70year old commitment.” 
Initial Reactions to the CAA
While the amendments to CAA were welcomed by most Indians inside as well as outside India, a few invested figures decided to use it to create unrest within the country. On December 12, 2019, the day after the act was passed, well-coordinated and organized protests erupted all over the country, facilitated and, in some instances, even funded by political parties, including the Indian National Congress, the principal opposition party in the country as well as People’s Front of India (PFI) – a political party allegedly associated with ISIS.
In many places, these protests turned violent and resulted in damage to public properties and a loss of lives. Among others, the destroyed properties include five trains and three railway stations, buses set ablaze, and several shops, public buildings, and public transport vehicles, including a school bus transporting children, that were stoned.
On December 15, 2019, protestors claiming to be students of Jamia Millia Islamia, a central government-funded “Muslim” university in Delhi, held violent protests near their campus, during which they pelted stones at the local ‘Delhi’ Police, burned vehicles – including three buses – and were caught on CCTV pelting stones on a school bus. In the process of dealing with them, the police chased the rioters, who ran into the Jamia campus and took shelter at the library. The police had to “lathi-charge” (beat the rioters with batons) to control the rioting mobs. The Delhi police then had to impose a curfew to curb and control this violence.
- “The Citizenship (Amendment) Act, 2019,” The Hindu Center, December 19, 2019, https://www.thehinducentre.com/resources/article30327343.ece.
- Farahnaz Ispahani, “Cleansing Pakistan of Minorities,” by Farahnaz Ispahani, July 31, 2013, https://www.hudson.org/research/9781-cleansing-pakistan-of-minorities.
- Samir Kalra, “VICTIMS OF HISTORY: The Untold Story of Pakistani Hindu Refugees in India.” Hindu American Foundation, March 31, 2013 https://www.hinduamerican.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/03/Victims-of-history-untold-story-pakistani-hindu-refugees-india.pdf.
- “Why Pakistani Hindus Leave Their Homes for India,” BBC News (BBC, October 28, 2015), https://www.bbc.com/news/world-asia-india-34645370.
- Associated News Network, “Citizenship Act Fulfills Promise Made to Minorities in Pakistan by Gandhi, Nehru: Kerala Governor: India News – Times of India,” The Times of India (TOI, December 21, 2019), https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/india/citizenship-act-fulfills-promise-made-to-minorities-in-pakistan-by-gandhi-nehru-kerala-governor/articleshow/72920246.cms.
- Arvind Ojha, “Delhi Police Names Former Congress MLA Asif Khan, 6 Others in FIR on Jamia Violence,” India Today, December 17, 2019, https://www.indiatoday.in/india/story/former-congress-mla-named-accused-in-jamia-university-violence-1629170-2019-12-17.
- “Delhi Police: Delhi में पकड़े गए 3 ISIS Terrorists का Popular Front of India से संबंध,” Zee News, Jan 3, 2020, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_c2hSpxJ7aM.
- Inderjit Kundu, “Citizenship protests spread to Bengal, protesters torch 5 trains, 3 railway stations, damage property”, India Today, Dec 15, 2019, https://www.indiatoday.in/mail-today/story/citizenship-protests-spread-to-bengal-protesters-torch-5-trains-3-railway-stations-damage-property-1628370-2019-12-15.
- Arvind Ojha, “CAA Protest: 3 Buses Torched near Delhi’s Jamia Nagar, Police Resort to Tear Gas, Lathicharge,” India Today, December 15, 2019, https://www.indiatoday.in/india/story/caa-protest-3-buses-torched-delhi-jamia-nagar-police-resort-tear-gas-lathicharge-1628469-2019-12-15.
- OpIndia Staff, “Watch: Jamia ‘Students’ with Stones in Hand Taking Shelter in Library before Police Barged in during Anti-CAA Riots,” OpIndia, February 16, 2020, https://www.opindia.com/2020/02/jamia-students-library-viral-video-stones-delhi-police/.
- FP Staff, “Full Text: 10,000 Academics, Members of Civil Society Sign Petition to Protest Police Action at Jamia Millia, Curfew at AMU,” Firstpost, December 18, 2019, https://www.firstpost.com/india/full-text-10000-academics-members-of-civil-society-sign-petition-to-protest-police-action-at-jamia-millia-curfew-at-amu-7796171.html.
- Karan Pradhan, “Jamia Millia and Amu Solidarity Statement – Signatories List,” Scribd (Scribd, December 2019), https://www.scribd.com/document/440193101/Jamia-Millia-and-Amu-Solidarity-Statement-Signatories-list.
- Italicized for emphasis.
- See the section “More Video Evidence Emerges”
- See the section “More Video Evidence Emerges”
- Associate News Network, “Ex-Congress MLA Served Notice in Connection with Violence during Anti-CAA Stir,” Yahoo! News (Yahoo!, January 24, 2020), https://in.news.yahoo.com/ex-congress-mla-served-notice-connection-violence-during-033958890.html.
- Business Today, “Popular Front of India Mobilised Rs 120 Crore to Fund Anti-CAA Protests, Claims ED,” Business Today, January 27, 2020, https://www.businesstoday.in/current/economy-politics/ed-says-pfi-mobilised-money-to-fund-anti-caa-protests/story/394730.html.
- Niharika Prabhakar, “Jharkhand Govt Bans Popular Front of India for ISIS Links,” Inshorts, January 1, 1970, https://inshorts.com/en/news/jharkhand-govt-bans-popular-front-of-india-for-isis-links-1519275720470.
- Kabir Taneja and Mohammed Sinan Siyech, “The Islamic State in India’s Kerala: A Primer,” ORF, October 2019, https://www.orfonline.org/research/the-islamic-state-in-indias-kerala-a-primer-56634/.
- Web Desk, “ISIS Terrorist’s Confession Exposes Popular Front of India: ‘PFI Leader Encouraged Me to Join ISIS’,” Organiser (Organiser, October 6, 2019), https://www.organiser.org/Encyc/2019/10/6/ISIS-terrorist-confession-exposes-Popular-Front-of-India.html.
- General News, “Anti-CAA Protest: Man Who Hurled Petrol Bombs at Cops near Jamia University Identified,” Business Standard (Business-Standard, December 19, 2019), https://www.business-standard.com/article/news-ani/anti-caa-protest-man-who-hurled-petrol-bombs-at-cops-near-jamia-university-identified-119121900866_1.html.
- India Today Web Desk, “Anti-CAA Stir: 15 Dead, 263 Police Personnel Injured since Dec 10, Says UP Top Cop,” India Today, December 21, 2019, https://www.indiatoday.in/india/story/up-anti-caa-citizenship-law-violence-clashes-dead-police-injured-ig-1630398-2019-12-21.
- Refer to footnote number 7
- Times Now, “Jamia Violence: New CCTV Footage Shows Delhi Police Attacking Students in Library,” The Economic Times, February 16, 2020, https://economictimes.indiatimes.com/news/politics-and-nation/jamia-violence-new-cctv-footage-shows-delhi-police-attacking-students-in-library/videoshow/74157538.cms.
- “Watch Video of Jamia Library Violence,” India Today, February 16, 2020, https://www.indiatoday.in/india/video/watch-video-of-jamia-library-violence-1647050-2020-02-16.
- India Today Web Desk, “Jamia Distances Itself from Video Showing Police Lathicharge inside Library, Says Not Released by Us,” India Today, February 16, 2020, https://www.indiatoday.in/india/story/jamia-distances-itself-from-video-showing-police-lathicharge-inside-library-says-not-released-by-us-1647042-2020-02-16.
- OpIndia Staff, “Watch: CCTV Video Shows Stone Pelting from inside the Jamia Premises during Riots,” OpIndia, February 18, 2020, https://www.opindia.com/2020/02/watch-video-jamia-riots-stone-pelting-on-delhi-police-from-inside-campus/.