Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Sunday attempted to allay the apprehensions of people over Citizenship Amendment Act and accused Opposition of spreading misinformation about it, ANI reported. The prime minister was on a two-day visit to Kolkata.
“I repeat again, Citizenship Act is not to revoke anyone’s citizenship, but it is to give citizenship,” Modi told students at Belur Math, the headquarters of the Ramakrishna Mission. “After independence, Mahatma Gandhi ji and other big leaders of the time all believed that India should give citizenship to persecuted religious minorities of Pakistan.”
Modi alleged that political parties were not ready to understand the amended law and were misleading citizens, The Indian Express reported. “Despite such clarity, some people are spreading rumours about CAA,” he said. “But I am happy that the youths of today helping others to get rid of the misconceptions. Isn’t this our responsibility to save those persecuted people or not? Will you stand by my side in this decision,” he asked.
“It’s because of this [CAA] that people here have become aware of the kind of persecution the Hindus in Pakistan face,” the prime minister said. “Pakistan is now answerable to us.”
Modi vowed to protect the distinct identity and culture of the people of the North East. “Their culture, traditions and demography remains untouched by this amended law,” he said.
“Today, on National Youth Day, I would like to tell this to the youngsters of India, West Bengal, North East that this is not an overnight law for giving citizenship,” he said. “We must all know that any person of any religion from any country of the world who believes in India and its Constitution can apply for Indian citizenship through due process. There’s no problem in that.”
Modi paid tribute to Swami Vivekananda on his birth anniversary.
Modi also inaugurated the anniversary celebration of 150 years of the Kolkata Port Trust and renamed it Syama Prasad Mookerjee Port. “It was unfortunate for the country that after Dr Syama Prasad Mukherjee and Babasaheb Ambedkar resigned from the government, their suggestions were not implemented as they should have been,” he said.
The prime minister said the port represented the “industrial, spiritual and self sufficiency aspirations” of India. “Today, when the port is celebrating its 150th anniversary, it is our responsibility to make it a powerful symbol of New India,” Modi added.
Protests against PM’s visit to Kolkata continue
Meanwhile, Left groups continued their protests against the amended citizenship law for the second consecutive day, PTI reported. Activists said that their agitation would continue till the prime minister leaves the city.
Demonstrations were held across Kolkata with posters of “Go Back Modi” and black flags flashed at multiple locations.
On Saturday, West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee told the prime minister to reconsider the decision to implement the Citizenship Amendment Act, which was notified on January 10, and the National Register of Citizens. After the meeting with Modi, Banerjee said students should keep fighting against the Citizenship Amendment Act, the citizens’ register, the National Population Register, and the atrocities committed by the police.
The Citizenship Amendment Act, approved by Parliament on December 11 and signed into law by President Ram Nath Kovind on December 13, provides citizenship to refugees from six minority religious communities from Bangladesh, Afghanistan and Pakistan, provided they have lived in India for six years and entered the country by December 31, 2014. The Act has been widely criticised for excluding Muslims. At least 26 people died in last month’s protests against the law. Of these, 19 died in Uttar Pradesh, five in Assam and two in Karnataka.