New Delhi: India will never be a “Muslim-mukt” nation, Union Home Minister Amit Shah said as he sought to assuage fears of the community over the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill that was passed in the Rajya Sabha Wednesday.
“They are and will remain citizens of India. The bill is not aimed at hurting anyone’s sentiments,” Shah said.
“Confusion and misinformation are being spread that this bill is specifically against the Muslim community. For the Muslims of this country, there is no debate or concern. They are citizens and will remain citizens. No one will harass them.”
Shah also asserted that the legislation will be implemented across the country, including West Bengal where the BJP is locked in a battle with the ruling Trinamool Congress over the National Register of Citizens (NRC) and the CAB.
“No one will have to go to a detention camp and this bill will be implemented across the country, including West Bengal,” Shah said.
He also came down heavily on the opposition, especially Congress leaders, saying they were speaking the language of “Pakistani” leaders. “The Congress, the opposition, always mirror Pakistan’s remarks on the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill. Their statements are almost the same.”
The bill, passed by both Houses of Parliament, proposes to make non-Muslim illegal migrants of six communities — Hindus, Christians, Sikhs, Parsis, Jains and Buddhists — from Pakistan, Afghanistan and Bangladesh eligible for Indian citizenship. It has been criticised for excluding Muslims.
‘Can’t give citizenship to Muslim migrants from world over’
With the opposition leaders raising queries on the exclusion of Muslims from the ambit of the bill, Shah said, “Can we give citizenship to Muslim migrants from the world over? No, we can’t. Nowhere in the world, it is done. Every nation has its own policy and this bill is for the six communities facing persecution in Pakistan, Bangladesh and Afghanistan.
“We are being questioned by the opposition for excluding the Muslim community but at the same time we are not being appreciated for including other communities.”
Terming it a historic bill, Shah said lakhs and crores of persecuted minorities of the three nations will benefit from it. “This will give them a life of dignity and will allow them to follow their religion with respect,” he said. “They will be able to protect the dignity of their women through this.”
Shah said minorities in the three nations were not being treated equally with their population also witnessing a 20 per cent decline. “They were either killed, forced to convert or migrate to India. Though they took refuge in India they have not been able to avail basic facilities such as jobs, healthcare or education”.
‘Modi government working for the nation’
Slamming the previous Congress regimes, Shah said the Modi government came to power not just to run the government but to improve it.
“What this country needed was political willpower that can bring in changes,” he said. “The Modi government has shown this. We have made laws on long-pending bills. I know there will be controversy but this will not stop us from working for the nation.”
Responding to the Shiv Sena charge that those who are against the bill are being termed as “deshdrohi (traitor)”, Shah took a jibe at the party: “Shiv Sena changed its colour overnight. What happened to them? People of Maharashtra are asking this question.”
Shiv Sena MPs walked out of the Rajya Sabha before voting on the bill began in the Upper House.
Shah further said that BJP has always maintained in its manifesto that it would provide citizenship rights to persecuted minorities and a right to education, jobs and livelihood.
“This bill will provide the persecuted a chance to provide for their families. People of the country have supported the legislation,” he said, reiterating that the bill does not violate Article 14 of the Constitution.