In what exposes the anti-India bias of the New York Times, it has carried an insidious, fake news about the Citizenship Amendment Bill, 2019 that was passed by the Lok Sabha on Monday. The headline of the fake story itself gives out the falsehood that the NYT is trying to spread with such propaganda. The headline reads, “India Takes Step Toward Blocking Naturalization for Muslims.” This is largely in line with the kind of propaganda and lies that are being peddled in order to create a sense of panic and fear about the proposed legislation.
The headline itself is based on a blatant lie. The reality is that the Citizenship Bill only creates a special procedure for the persecuted minorities in Bangladesh, Afghanistan and Pakistan. The Bill only creates a right in the favour of persecuted minorities, it does not take away any rights of any individual. Persecuted minorities from those countries which have been included in the Bill obviously cannot include Muslims given that Muslims are neither religiously persecuted, nor do they constitute a minority in those countries.
However, the Bill does not in any way affect their right to acquire Indian citizenship by way of naturalisation provided that they fulfil the conditions already prescribed by the Indian Citizenship law. In fact, the Citizenship Bill does not even deal with the question of Muslims acquiring citizenship by naturalisation, and the argument that Muslims have lost the right to acquire citizenship by way of naturalisation is a mere figment of imagination.
Giving a clear spin to the provisions of the Bill, the NYT article has claimed, “The measure would give migrants of all of South Asia’s major religions a clear path to Indian citizenship — except Islam.” This again is a blatant lie. The Act does give a path of Indian citizenship to the minorities persecuted in India’s neighbouring Islamic countries, but that does not take away the existing provisions under the Citizenship law to acquire citizenship by way of naturalisation. Then, the NYT story also claims, “But the legislation would also make it easier to incarcerate and deport Muslim residents, even those whose families have been in India for generations if they cannot produce proof of citizenship.”
The NYT also goes on to indulge in fear-mongering about the NRC exercise that was carried out in Assam. This again is a deliberate misinterpretation in order to spread misconceptions about the Bill. The fact remains that when it comes to those who infiltrated into Indian territory without any travel documents as illegal immigrants, there was never a provision for conferring citizenship upon them. An illegal immigrant is excluded from acquisition of Indian citizenship through birth, registration or naturalisation. And this position of law remains undisturbed by the proposed Citizenship Amendment Bill, 2019.
Even if the Citizenship Amendment Bill had not been introduced, the illegal immigrants could have still been imprisoned or deported for not having valid travel documents. They would have still not been able to apply for citizenship by any means, including naturalisation. An illegal immigrant is not eligible to apply for citizenship through naturalisation as per Indian Law, whereas any foreigner living in India legally can apply for naturalisation if they fulfill the criteria laid in the constitution.
Along with the falsehoods that the NYT spreads about the Citizenship Bill in this story, it has also tried furthering the agenda of labelling the Modi government as a Hindu-nationalist government that is trying to reduce India into a “Hindu” country. The malicious intent of the NYT is therefore pretty clear with this story. However, what is surprising is the manner in which the US House Foreign Affairs Committee which is responsible for foreign policy legislation and oversight has quoted this obnoxious, propagandist story published by the NYT. Quoting NYT’s fake story, the US House Foreign Affairs Committee has stated, “Religious pluralism is central to the foundations of both India and the United States and is one of our core shared values. Any religious test for citizenship undermines this most basic democratic tenet.”
Religious pluralism is central to the foundations of both India and the United States and is one of our core shared values. Any religious test for citizenship undermines this most basic democratic tenet. #CABBillhttps://t.co/7wyeXMFfxl
— House Foreign Affairs Committee (@HouseForeign) December 9, 2019
Indian journalists like Barkha Dutt too have taken to propagating this inflammatory spin to recent events regarding the Citizenship Bill and have been called out by several people who smell the sinister agenda behind this rumour. The NYT article treads on similar grounds and might just be crossing the line this time.
Indeed. Except telling them that only non Muslims can be naturalised citizens going forward. https://t.co/mKxCo9Ndq7
— barkha dutt (@BDUTT) December 9, 2019
No Barkhaji! Muslims can indeed be naturalised but not under this Act. This Act does not disturb existing rights. It just confers extra rights upon persecuted minorities in three neighbouring countries. If certain interested sections of semi literate western media https://t.co/7Mrz87G6sc
— Raghav Awasthi (@raghav355) December 9, 2019
NYT has only exposed its anti-India bias once again with its shoddily written fake story and it is a matter of surprise how this fake story has not been taken down till now, however, the fact that the US Committee responsible for foreign affairs legislation has also contributed towards corroborating such utter lies is a real matter of concern. NYT also covered the deoperationalisation of Article 370 and other political events in India with an appalling level of anti-India bias.
India is not one to kneel down before the United States’ interventionist approach tested in countries like Iraq, and the US cannot possibly have its way indulging in fake propaganda unlike what it had done in Iraq with allegations of Saddam Hussein having Weapons of Mass Destruction. The fake story run by NYT with a malafide intention of tarnishing India’s image and its endorsement by the US House Foreign Affairs Committee amounts to unnecessary meddling in India’s internal affairs and creates a potential point of friction.