New Delhi: Union Minority Affairs Minister Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi has said there is no possibility that the Citizenship (Amendment) Act (CAA), 2019, will be repealed. Calls from Muslim leaders and others for the repeal of the controversial law have gained a second wind after Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced the withdrawal of the three contentious farm laws Friday.
“People have started playing minority politics around the CAA. There is no way that the law will be repealed because it has got nothing to do with the citizens of India,” Naqvi told ThePrint.
He continued, “These people know very well that the CAA isn’t about taking away citizenship but providing citizenship to Hindus, Sikhs and other oppressed minorities in Pakistan, Afghanistan and Bangladesh.”
The CAA provides an accelerated pathway to Indian citizenship for Hindus, Sikhs, Jains, Buddhists, Parsis and Christians from Pakistan, Bangladesh and Afghanistan — all Muslim-majority countries in India’s neighbourhood — who face persecution in those countries because of their status as religious minorities.
The law, which does not mention Muslims or other communities from the neighbouring countries, has been interpreted as discriminatory, and protests erupted across India after its passage in 2019. Two years since, rules to operationalise the law are yet to be framed.
Naqvi sought to dismiss the concerns surrounding the CAA, saying the religious, social, educational and constitutional rights of minorities are absolutely safe in India and they are equal stakeholders in development.
Renewed calls for repeal
After Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced Friday that the three contentious agriculture laws, against which farmers have been protesting for more than a year, would shortly be withdrawn, various organisations and politicians have demanded that the CAA, too, be repealed.
Hyderabad MP Asaduddin Owaisi, president of the All India Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen (AIMIM), said at a public rally in Barabanki Sunday that Uttar Pradesh would be turned into Shaheen Bagh — the former site of a major anti-CAA sit-in protest in Delhi — if the law was not withdrawn.
In a tweet, Owaisi also said: “If the government implements the CAA and NRC (National Register of Citizens), we will take to the streets again. We demand that, the way the government has taken back the three farm laws, CAA and NRC should be withdrawn as well.”
हुकूमत अगर NRC, CAA का क़ानून लागू करती है, तो हम फिर से सड़कों पर उतरेंगे और विरोध प्रदर्शन करेंगे। हमारी मांग है कि हुकूमत ने जिस तरह से तीनों कृषि क़ानून को वापस लिया है उसी तरह CAA, NRC का क़ानून भी वापस ले। https://t.co/2dvmw5E1Hf
— Asaduddin Owaisi (@asadowaisi) November 22, 2021
Leaders of influential socio-religious organisations have also demanded the repeal of the CAA, including Maulana Arshad Madani, president of the Jamiat Ulema-e Hind (JUH), and Syed Sadatullah Hussaini, president of the Jamaat-e-Islami Hind.
In a statement released Friday, Madani said, “Our Prime Minister says that the structure of our country is democratic, so now he should pay attention to the laws that have been brought regarding Muslims. Like the agri laws, the CAA should also be withdrawn.”
Street protests against the CAA took place around the country between December 2019 and March 2020. In one of the major protests, Muslim women in southeast Delhi’s Shaheen Bagh sat on the road for the entire duration, refusing to budge until the law was revoked.
This eventually ended when the Ministry of Health issued a notification in March 2020 against any such assembly in view of growing Covid-19 numbers in India.
‘BJP strong in UP’
Naqvi, who is a Rajya Sabha MP from Uttar Pradesh, also said the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) is in a strong position in the state no matter who chooses to contest the upcoming assembly polls, scheduled for February-March 2022.
Asked about Owaisi’s announcement that AIMIM would contest 100 seats in Uttar Pradesh, he said, “This is election time, anybody can fight elections.”
While speaking to reporters Sunday in Rampur, Uttar Pradesh, Naqvi had said that the era of Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath and Prime Minister Narendra Modi had “demolished the legacy of cut, commission and corruption in the state and the politics of danga (riots) and dabang (musclemen). They have created fear among the corrupt and the mafia.”