India’s Citizenship (Amendment) Act
A Throwback to Debates around the ‘Long Partition’
My paper examines the prehistory of India’s controversial new Citizenship (Amendment) Act 2019 (‘CAA’), which expedites citizenship procedures for non-Muslim minorities from Afghanistan, Pakistan and Bangladesh. Through looking at a longue durée examination of British India's Partition, I argue that the Partition's dislocation conflated the otherwise oppositional categories of ‘citizen’ and ‘refugee’ in the formative years of the Republic. Through examining Constituent Assembly and parliamentary debates, judicial precedents and archival files and file notings between 1947–65, I demonstrate how taking responsibility for non-Muslims in Pakistan went hand in hand with ring fencing Muslims at a point where the relationship between the state, citizenship and nationality was abruptly prised open. Rather than an aberration, therefore, the CAA is the culmination of a strand of ideas and decisions that have informed Indian citizenship since Independence, which perhaps a refugee law could go some way to ameliorate.