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FOR THAT SENSE OF BELONGING
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Minority children: riots such as the one in Gujarat have particularly brutal effects on children. They are forced to develop within the contexts of seemingly permanent psychosocial trauma or what some psychologists refer to as the “normal abnormality” of violence. Situations that once seemed unimaginable...become part of life and have devastating effects on children.

Yet, justice eludes the minority children of the Gujarat riot of 2002. All the accused in the infamous Best Bakery case of Gujarat riot were acquitted by the lower court after the witnesses turned hostile due to threat and intimidation. The victims in the Best Bakery case included four children. While the National Human Rights Commission’s writ petition to the Supreme Court and the interim order of the Supreme Court order are welcome, the hostile attitude of the state government and the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party, which termed the NHRC as “anti-Hindu” for its intervention in the Best Bakery case, need to be borne in mind.

Civil and Political Rights

Article 7: Name and Nationality: “There exists the potential for children born of refugee parents to become stateless; that there is no adequate legal mechanism to deal with family reunification; and that although refugee children attend school on a de facto basis, there is no legislation which entitles these children to education” — Committee on the Rights of the Child in its concluding observations on India in January 2000.

In its first periodic report...the government of India failed to respond...about the denial of the right to nationality in India. It makes generic references to the laws dealing with citizenship. This despite the fact that denial of the right to nationality even of children whose parents were victims of the partition of India continues even today.

There is a lack of sensitivity of the government of India with regard to the stateless people. In a specific question in Parliament “whether a number of Hindus and other minorities who fled Pakistan for India during 1965 Indo-Pak conflict are still waiting grant of citizenship, who continue to live in different parts of the country as refugees”, the minister of state for home affairs, Vidya Sagar Rao, stated on August 18, 2000, “Such details are not maintained by the Government of India.”...

Case 1: The denial of the right to nationality to the Chakma and Hajong children: In 1964, about 30,000 Chakmas and Hajongs from the Chittagong Hill Tracts of then East Pakistan (now Bangladesh) migrated to India and were settled in Arunachal Pradesh. Until today, the children of these migrants have not been granted the right to nationality. This despite the fact that the Chakmas and Hajongs were born after the migration of their parents in 1964 and are Indian citizens by birth under Section 3(1) (a) of the Indian Citizenship Act, 1955. Section 3(1)(a)...provides that “except as provided in sub-section (2), every person born in India...on or after the 26th day of January, 1950 but before the commencement of the Citizenship (Amendment) Act, 1986” is a citizen by birth.

The Committee for Citizenship Rights of the Chakmas of Arunachal Pradesh, a representative body of the migrants, filed a complaint with the NHRC on December 12, 1997 against the denial of the right to franchise to these Chakmas and Hajongs who are citizens by birth. The NHRC issued notice to the state government of Arunachal Pradesh recognized that “as per the provisions of the Citizenship Act 1955, every person born in India on or after 26 January 1950 and before 1 July 1987 are citizens of India by birth and therefore eligible for electoral rolls.”

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