Union Minister of Home Affairs Amit Shah on Tuesday refused to back down in the face of nationwide protests against the Citizenship Amendment Act, telling the Opposition that despite its anger the Centre would do everything in its power to ensure that six non-Muslim persecuted communities from Pakistan, Bangladesh and Afghanistan get Indian citizenship, NDTV reported.
“Come what may, the [Prime Minister Narendra] Modi government will ensure that these refugees get Indian citizenship and live as Indians with honour,” Shah said at a rally in Delhi’s Dwarka locality. His remark came even as protests in the city’s Seelampur area turned violent.
“I want to tell our students as well as Muslim brothers and sisters that there’s nothing to fear,” Shah said. “Nobody is going to lose Indian citizenship. The legislation is on the website for everybody to read.” The home minister claimed that the Centre believes in “sabka saath, sabka vikas” and no one will face injustice.
“The entire Opposition is trying to mislead the population,” Shah alleged, according to Hindustan Times. “I am saying again that nobody’s citizenship will be taken away. This was part of Nehru-Liaquat pact but was not implemented for 70 years because the Congress wanted to make a vote bank.”
In 1950, former Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru and his Pakistani counterpart Liaquat Ali Khan signed an agreement according to which the two countries are required to ensure “complete equality of citizenship” and “full sense of security” for their minorities.
“Modi government has implemented the pact which will give citizenship to lakhs and crores of people,” Shah added. Last week, the home minister had told Parliament that while India kept its word, Pakistan had reneged, making the amendments to the Citizenship Act necessary.
Earlier in the day, Narendra Modi claimed at a rally in poll-bound Jharkhand that “urban Naxals” were using student protestors to advance their political agenda.
Student protests against the legislation first broke out at Jamia Millia Islamia University in New Delhi on Sunday evening, and then spread to Aligarh Muslim University in Uttar Pradesh and several other colleges across India in protest against police violence at Jamia and Aligarh. At last count, at least 40 colleges were part of the protests.
Opposition leaders met President Ram Nath Kovind in the evening, led by interim Congress President Sonia Gandhi. They submitted a letter to the president, demanding that the controversial law be withdrawn. They also asked for an investigation into the police violence.
Earlier in the day, the Supreme Court asked petitioners seeking action against the police to approach relevant High Courts. The top court also refused to set up a fact-finding committee to investigate the police.