In the face of unrelenting nationwide protests, Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Sunday sought to assuage concerns over the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) and the National Register of Citizens (NRC), reassuring the Muslims that they need not worry about them.
Accusing the Congress and other Opposition parties of spreading “lies and rumours” on the issue to divide the country for their political gains, he clarified that while the amended citizenship law was intended to provide citizenship to persecuted minorities from three neighbouring countries, the proposal for the NRC was yet to come “even for a discussion” at the level of the government.
He also insisted that the CAA had nothing to do with the Indian Muslims, clarifying that the amended citizenship law and the NRC proposal were not interlinked.
“If there is still any confusion. I would reassure that neither the amended citizenship law nor the NRC will have any impact on the Muslims who are sons of the soil and whose ancestors are the children of mother India,” he said.
Modi was addressing a rally in the national capital organised to kick off the BJP's campaign for the upcoming Assembly polls in Delhi, starting with the slogan of 'vividhta me ekta, Bharat ki visheshta' (Unity in diversity is India's speciality).
“Congress, its allies and educated urban Naxals are spreading rumours that all Muslims will be sent to detention centres. Where are detention centres? Its a white lie.,” he said in a blistering attack on them for supporting the nationwide protests against the CAA and NRC.
He also maintained that there has been “no discussion on NRC anywhere, either in Parliament or in Cabinet" since the BJP-led NDA came to power at the Centre in 2014.
“Only after the Supreme Court's order, this exercise was done for Assam," he said.
He rejected as "lies, lies and lies" the buzz about the government coming up with detention centres in the country where those not making it to in the NRC will be kept. Latching on to a Hindi proverb he said, "when someone tells you that the crow has taken away your ear, first look whether your ear is intact or not instead of running after the crow."
In his nearly 100-minute speech devoting most of it to the CAA and the NRC, however, Modi virtually gave a justification for having a nation-wide NRC, noting that the genuine refugees never "hide" their identities when they come to India crossing the borders due to persecution while infiltrators never "reveal" their identity.
Prime Minister's remarks come even as Home Minister Amit Shah had recently told Rajya Sabha that the NRC will be conducted across the country and it will be repeated in Assam. Last week, Defense Minister Rajnath Singh had said that NRC was “inevitable”.
Firmly defending the CAA, Modi said that his government has brought it only to fulfil the assurance that Mahatma Gandhi had given in 1947 saying the Sikhs and Hindus living in Pakistan would always be welcome in India.
“The CAA will only apply to the people who have been living in India for several years now. No new refugee will benefit from the law,” he said.
Modi decried the violent protests against the CAA and appealed to those against it to adopt “non-violent methods” of protest. He also called upon the Opposition parties and protestors to show “respect for Parliament”, saying the both Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha had passed the amendment law.
At a time when the police have come in for severe criticism over their handling of the protest and the death of over a dozen people in Uttar Pradesh and two in Karnataka during protests, Modi sought to rally support of people around cops telling them that nearly 33,000 cops have sacrificed their lives to maintain law and order and peace since Independence.