The Congress-led United Democratic Front on Wednesday blocked Kerala Governor Arif Mohammad Khan’s way in the Kerala Assembly, asking him to “go back” and holding placards against the Citizenship Amendment Act, PTI reported. The incident took place when Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan and Speaker P Sreeramakrishnan ushered Khan into the Assembly hall for presenting the policy address.
The Opposition MLAs did not budge even after requests from Vijayan and Sreeramakrishnan.
After nearly 10 minutes, watch and ward personnel removed the Opposition legislators and cleared the governor’s way to the dais. Khan reached the dais and the national anthem was played. After that, the Opposition MLAs stormed the well of the House and shouted “go back” slogans at the governor again.
When Khan began his address, Opposition members walked out of the Assembly and began a sit-in protest at the gate.
Later, while reading a paragraph from his address, in which the state government had opposed the Citizenship Amendment Act, Khan said he believed that this was not either a policy or a programme matter, ANI reported.
“I have been corresponding with the honourable chief minister for the last few days,” he said. “I have my reservations...[but] I am going to read this para because chief minister wants me to read this. Although I hold the view that this does not come under policy or programme, the honourable chief minister himself has said in his letter that this the view of the government. To honour his wish...I disagree...but to honour his wish I am going to read this para.”
The paragraph said that Indian citizenship can never be on the basis of religion, as this goes against the grain of secularism, which is part of the structure of the Constitution. It added that the Assembly had urged the Centre to abrogate the Citizenship Amendment Act.
The Citizenship Amendment Act 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 protests against the Act last month.