The Citizenship Amendment Act will be implemented as soon as the Covid-19 pandemic ends, said Union Minister Amit Shah on Thursday.
“I want to make it clear that the Trinamool Congress is spreading rumours that the CAA will not be implemented,” he said, NDTV reported. “I want to say that as soon as the Covid-19 wave abates we will implement CAA on the ground.”
Shah made the statement during a public address in Bengal’s Siliguri district.
West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee said that the Citizenship (Amendment) Act had lapsed, ANI reported.
“Why are they not bringing this Bill to Parliament?” she asked. “I do not want the rights of citizens to be curbed. We all have to stay together, unity is our strength.”
The Citizenship Amendment Act, approved by Parliament on December 11, 2019, provides citizenship to refugees from six minority religious communities from Bangladesh, Afghanistan and Pakistan, on the condition that they have lived in India for six years and entered the country by December 31, 2014.
The law, however, is yet to be implemented as rules under the Citizenship Amendment Act are yet to be framed. The government had said that the formation of the rules was delayed due to the coronavirus pandemic and has sought multiple extensions.
The citizenship law has been widely criticised as discriminatory and Indian Muslims fear it could be used with the National Register of Citizens to harass and disenfranchise them. It had sparked massive protests across the country.
Several states such as Tamil Nadu, West Bengal, Kerala, Punjab, Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh have moved a resolution against the Citizenship Amendment Act.
India witnessed widespread protests in late 2019 and early 2020 over the Citizenship Amendment Act. A riot broke out between supporters of the Citizenship Amendment Act and the ones opposing the law in North East Delhi between February 23 and February 26, 2020. The violence claimed 52 lives and injured 545 persons, according to a March 18, 2020, Rajya Sabha response.
West Bengal-Centre BSF deadlock
While addressing a Border Security Force event in the North 24 Parganas district on Thursday, Home Minister Amit Shah blamed the ruling Trinamool Congress government for border infiltration and smuggling, PTI reported.
It was the Border Security Force’s constitutional right to protect the frontiers, he added.
Centre’s extension of the Border Security Force’s jurisdiction in West Bengal to 50 kilometres from the international border has been opposed by Banerjee. In November, the state Assembly had passed a resolution against the Centre’s decision.
Shah on Thursday said that it is difficult to stop infiltration and smuggling without the support of the local administration. “However, we have faith that soon a political situation would come up wherein you will get that support due to public pressure,” he added.
Meanwhile, Banerjee said it was the Centre’s responsibility to protect the borders, ANI reported.
“Mr Amit Shah, I have regards for you are the Home Minister,” she said. “Don’t guide me or don’t ask BSF to overrule the state. It is your duty to prevent cow smuggling, infiltration and ensure peace is maintained at the borders.”
The home minister should pay attention to other states and not to Bengal, she added.
“The Home Minister should see what happened in Delhi’s Jahangirpuri, Uttar Pradesh and in Madhya Pradesh, not worry about Bengal,” Banerjee said. “BJP’s work is to create divisiveness. What has he done as Home Minister? They did violence even on the day of Eid.