In what comes as a shocking and insensitive remark, Punjab CM Amarinder Singh has said that his government will not allow the CAB to be implemented in Punjab. The Chief Minister’s office has stated, “Terming the Citizenship Amendment Bill (CAB) as a direct assault on India’s secular character, Punjab Chief Minister Captain Amarinder Singh today said his government would not allow the legislation to be implemented in his state.” The Punjab Chief Minister said, “The Parliament had no authority to pass a law that defiled the Constitution and violated its basic principles and fundamental rights of the people of India.”
The Constitution that the Punjab CM has cited as the reason for not giving effect to the Parliamentary law, entitles only the judiciary to decide upon the validity of a statutory enactment. It is absolutely absurd how the Punjab Chief Minister is trying to illegitimately put himself in the position of a constitutional court deciding the vires of a law enacted in accordance with the Constitution. The Punjab government is an entity established by the government, and as such it has no right to decide whether an enactment is in line with the Constitution or not.
His defiance to implement the Citizenship Amendment Law is not only illegal and unconstitutional, but also insensitive and unconscionable. Punjab CM Amarinder Singh wants to make the Amendment a dead letter in Punjab, even though the Sikh community is one of the biggest victims of violent Islamism in Pakistan. The community has faced clear persecution at the hands of Islamic extremists in Pakistan. In fact, the population of Sikh community in Pakistan has gone down from 40,000 to 8,000 since 2002. The community is on the verge of extinction in the state.
The community continues to face utter discrimination in the Islamic Republic of Pakistan, and this is further corroborated by reports of cases of conversion and forceful marriage of Sikh women. Only a few months ago, there were reports about the forcible conversion of a 19 year old Sikh girl to Islam and subsequent forcible marriage to a Muslim man. The brother of the victim had said, “She had gone to stay with our elder sister whose husband was on a business trip to Faislabad. An armed group attacked the house located near Gurdwara Bad Leela and kidnapped the girl at gunpoint.” This shows the kind of violence and persecution that the Sikh community, including women continue to face in Pakistan.
At a time when the Sikh community is facing extreme violence and deprivation in Pakistan, the Citizenship Amendment really comes as a glimmer of hope for the Sikh community. Several Sikhs escaped to India following persecution in Afghanistan and Pakistan. But till the enactment of the Citizenship Amendment law, they had to run from pillar to post for acquiring Indian citizenship. It is therefore utterly shocking and insensitive that Punjab CM Amarinder Singh wants to block the only path for justice to the Sikhs who are victims of persecution in Pakistan and Afghanistan. This is a clear affront to the Sikh community and a mockery of the hardships that Sikhs have faced in Pakistan and Afghanistan. Out of his loyalty towards the Congress, the Punjab CM has put himself in a very tight spot by opposing CAB for which he will ultimately have to pay in terms of electoral unpopularity.