Gujarat Chief Minister Vijay Rupani on Tuesday justified the amendments to the Citizenship Act by saying that Muslims can choose any one of the 150 Islamic countries while Hindus only have India, reported PTI.
Addressing a rally in support of the amended law outside the Sabarmati Ashram in Ahmedabad, Rupani criticised the Congress for opposing the new Act. “There were 22% Hindus in Pakistan at the time of Partition,” said Rupani. “Now, due to persecution, rapes and constant torture, their population has reduced to just 3%. That is why Hindus want to come back to India. We are doing what the Congress was supposed to do to help these distressed Hindus. And when we are doing it now, you are opposing it.”
The Bharatiya Janata Party leader claimed the Hindu population has shrunk to just 2% in Bangladesh while the number of Hindu and Sikh residents in Afghanistan has reduced to 500 from 2 lakh. “Muslims can go to any of the 150 countries, but there in only country for the Hindus, and that is India,” said Rupani. “So what is the problem if they want to come back?”
Rupani pointed out that the population of Muslims in India, on the other hand, rose from 9% to 14%. “[It is] because of the secular Constitution they live a dignified life in India,” he added, according to The Indian Express.
The Citizenship Amendment Act aims to provide Indian citizenship to people from six persecuted minority religious communities in Bangladesh, Afghanistan and Pakistan, except Muslims, as long as people from these communities have entered India on or before December 31, 2014. At least 24 people across India have died during protests against the amended citizenship law in the last two weeks.
Rupani also criticised Dalit leaders and outfits opposing the new citizenship law. “There are 10,000 refugees from these countries living in Gujarat,” he claimed. “Most of them who are living in Kutch are Dalits, like Maheshwari and Meghwal communities. Dalit leaders need to explain why they are not in favour of granting citizenship to these Dalit refugees By opposing the CAA, these Dalit leaders have been exposed.”
Rupani said it was “misfortune of India” that there are parties and leaders like the “Congress, the Communists and [West Bengal Chief Minister] Mamata Banerjee” who people to fulfill “their own political agenda and destabilise the government”. Rupani reasserted that “not a single Muslim in India will lose citizenship”.
The chief minister also reminded the crowd that removing Article 370, building Ram temple in Ayodhya, abolishing triple talaq and implementing the National Register of Citizen were all part of the BJP’s 2019 Lok Sabha election manifesto. “The people democratically brought the BJP and its allies to power,” he said.
Rupani’s comment about NRC come at a time when Prime Minister Narendra Modi claimed that the NRC hadn’t been brought up even once since he came to power in 2014. “Has anything happened with the NRC yet?” he had asked at a rally in Delhi on Sunday. “Lies are being spread. After my government came to power, from 2014 to now, let me tell the 130 crore citizens of this country, nowhere has the NRC word been discussed, been talked about. Only when the Supreme Court said, then we had to do it for Assam. What are they talking about? Spreading lies.” However, Union Home Minister Amit Shah, who is also the BJP president, has repeatedly promised to roll out the NRC exercise across India.
Retired High Court Justice SM Soni also defended the amended law, and said that it does not violate any provisions of the Constitution. “The Act does not bar a Muslim from applying for Indian citizenship,” he said. “He can do so by following proper procedures. This Act does not discriminate. Provisions of the Constitution do not apply to those who are yet to become citizens. This Act has fulfilled the dream of Mahatma Gandhi.”
As many as 62 rallies in support of the amended law were held in all 33 districts of Gujarat on Tuesday. These were organised by Nagrik Samitis (citizen committees) with the support of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh.