Union Home Minister Amit Shah said on Friday that even if all other parties come together to oppose the Citizenship Amendment Act, the Bharatiya Janata Party-led government will “not move back even an inch”, ANI reported. Shah accused Opposition parties of spreading misinformation, and said they could continue to do so, but the Act would not be repealed.
Shah, speaking at an outreach rally in Jodhpur, Rajasthan, also took a dig at Congress leader Rahul Gandhi. “If you have read the [Citizenship Amendment] law, you can come for a discussion at any place,” Shah said. “But if you have not read it, I can get it translated it into Italian and send it to you.”
Shah said the government had to organise outreach rallies in favour of the Citizenship Amendment Act because the Congress, which is habituated to playing vote-bank politics, has been spreading misinformation about the law, the BJP tweeted.
The home minister said that there has been no greater violation of human rights than the one against refugees who the Act grants citizenship. He said that the refugees, who were once millionaires, now have no place to live. Shah added that the refugees once had a lot of land, but now they have nothing to eat.
Shah said that Mahatma Gandhi and India’s first Prime Minister, Jawaharlal Nehru, were also in favour of granting citizenship to Hindu and Sikh refugees. “Were they [Gandhi and Nehru] also communal?” he asked.
The national BJP chief claimed that nobody has any reason to fear since this is the era of the Narendra Modi government. Shah said that all refugees who have come from Afghanistan, Pakistan and Bangladesh will be given citizenship, thus granting them the honour of becoming Indians.
Shah said the BJP is merely fulfilling the spirit of the Nehru-Liaquat Ali Pact of 1950. Shah said the pact, which enjoined both India and Pakistan to treat their minorities fairly, was fulfilled only by India. In Pakistan, he said, the percentage of minorities has declined from 23% at the time of Independence to 3% today.
Attacking West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee, Shah wondered what problem she has with Hindus and Dalits who have fled into West Bengal. He also debunked Banerjee’s claim that the refugees would have to stand in long queues and produce documentary proof.
“Opposition parties are trying to mislead you [Muslims] by claiming that the Act will take away the citizenship of Indian Muslims,” Shah said. “But I want to assure all of you that this Act is about giving people citizenship, not taking it away from anybody.”
“For vote-bank politics, Congress party is speaking against a great personality like Veer Savarkar as well,” Shah said according to ANI. “Congressmen should be ashamed of themselves.”
The Union home minister also advised Rajasthan Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot to focus on the children who are “dying in Kota every day”, instead of opposing the Citizenship Amendment Act. “Show some concern, mothers are cursing you,” he said. Shah was referring to the deaths of 100 infants at the state-run JK Lon Hospital in Kota in December, which has led to a political storm. Rajasthan is under the rule of the Congress party.
Protests, opposition to the Citizenship Amendment Act
The Citizenship Amendment Act has triggered protests across the country after it was passed in Parliament on December 11. At least 26 people have died in the protests, including 19 in Uttar Pradesh itself.
The legislation provides Indian citizenship to religious minorities from Pakistan, Bangladesh and Afghanistan, who have entered the country on or before December 31, 2014. The law has attracted widespread criticism as it excludes the Muslim community from its purview. Several non-BJP-ruled states have refused to implement it under their administration. Allies of the BJP such as the Janata Dal (United) have also expressed reservations about the legislation.