Union Home Minister Amit Shah on Friday dared Congress leader Rahul Gandhi to show any provision in the Citizenship Amendment Act that says the citizenship of an Indian will be taken away, The Hindu reported. Shah, who is also the Bharatiya Janata Party national president, was addressing a party rally in Shimla to commemorate its two years in power in the state.
“I want to tell everyone, and especially the minorities, that the Congress and company are misleading and spreading rumours that under the CAA, the citizenship of Muslim brothers is about be taken away,” Shah said. “I challenge Rahul baba to please come and present any single provision in the Act that mentions that citizenship of any person will be taken away.”
On December 23, Gandhi had said that the Narendra Modi-led government was doing what India’s enemies could not do – stall the progress of the country. He made the remarks after reading out the Preamble to the Indian Constitution along with Interim Congress President Sonia Gandhi and former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh at Rajghat in New Delhi, during a protest against the amendments to the Citizenship Act. Gandhi alleged that Modi wanted to silence the “voice of India”.
On Friday, Gandhi said that the country cannot be run without involving all sections of the society.
Shah said on Friday that rather than taking away anyone’s citizenship, the Act provides citizenship to minorities who have come from Pakistan, Afghanistan and Bangladesh. “You [Congress] please do not mislead people,” Shah said. “Don’t try to destroy the country’s peace. If you have the facts, then present them before people.”
Shah asserted that it was Mahatma Gandhi’s desire that following Partition, all non-Muslims who did not wish to live in Pakistan should be allowed to come to India. He added that in 1950, Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru entered into a pact with his Pakistani counterpart Liaquat Ali Khan, in which both countries agreed to protect the rights of their minorities. However, he added, people fled Pakistan, Afghanistan and Bangladesh to escape religious persecution, and were being given refuge in India through the Act.
Congress left the border open, terrorists beheaded soldiers: Shah
Later, at an investors’ meet in Shimla, Shah said that during the erstwhile Congress-led United Progressive Alliance government, any “Aalia, Malia, Jamalia” from Pakistan would cross over and behead Indian soldiers, but then-Prime Minister Manmohan Singh would not say a word, ANI reported.
“They had left the border open,” he alleged. “When Narendra Modi came to power, Pakistan thought things would continue like this. They didn’t realise that this is no Congress government...this is the BJP government.” Shah pointed out that the Modi-led government had carried out surgical strikes after the Uri attack and destroyed terror camps in Balakot after the Pathankot attack.
However, the Union home minister did not make any explicit remarks about the National Register of Citizens.
On Tuesday, Shah had claimed that there was no link between the NRC and the National Population Register, funds of Rs 3,900 crore for which were allocated by the government the same day. Opposition parties accused Shah of lying, saying that his statements were contradictory to those he and the government had made in the past.
The National Population Register, which is linked to the census and is a list of “usual residents” in the country, is described by the Census of India as “the first step towards the creation of a National Register of Citizens”.
There have been massive protests against the Citizenship Amendment Act and the National Register of Citizens in the country over the last two weeks, resulting in the deaths of at least 25 people. The Citizenship Amendment Act, passed by Parliament on December 11, provides citizenship to refugees from six minority religious communities from Bangladesh, Afghanistan and Pakistan, so long as they have entered India on or before December 31, 2014. However, it exempts Muslims from its purview.
On the other hand, the National Register of Citizens is an exercise meant to distinguish between undocumented migrants living in India from genuine Indian citizens. One such exercise, carried out in Assam earlier this year, led to the exclusion of 19 lakh people.