In a significant development, Islak on the outskirts of Ahmednagar in Maharashtra became the first village in the country to pass a resolution against the Citizenship Amendment Act, National Register of Citizens and National Population Register. This assumes significance as the opposition was perceived as being confined only to urban areas. Also, as per reports, not a single Muslim resides in Islak having a population of approximately 2,000.
The Gram Panchayat took the decision after a majority of the population expressed concern over the lack of documents. Speaking to ANI, Mahadev Gawli- a villager who proposed the resolution during the Gram Panchayat meeting warned the Centre that a non-cooperation movement would be launched if the CAA and the NRC were not rolled back. He revealed that at least 45% of its population belonged to the downtrodden sections who did not possess documents to prove their citizenship.
Mahadev Gawli remarked, "Out of the 2000 people here, 45% of people belong to the Scheduled Caste, Scheduled Tribe and downtrodden sections. They do not have documents to prove their citizenship. We have sent a dossier to the Centre suggesting to make changes in the new law. If not done, we will organise a non-cooperation movement from here.”
The CAA seeks to provide citizenship to the minority communities namely Hindus, Sikhs, Buddhists, Jains, Parsis and Christians from Afghanistan, Bangladesh and Pakistan. This will be applicable to the members of these communities having arrived in India on or before December 31, 2014. Moreover, they will not be considered as illegal migrants.
Additionally, the mandatory residence period for naturalised citizenship for these communities has been reduced to five years. The opposition contends that the Act discriminates on the basis of religion. The law has not only sparked off nationwide protests but it has also been challenged in the Supreme Court.
Interestingly, the village's stance comes at a time when Maharashtra Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray backed the implementation of the CAA. Thackeray contended that this law did not snatch away anyone's citizenship. Moreover, he opined that there was no need for people to indulge in protests when the NRC had not been introduced.