Modi, Shah take on Oppn as it goes to Prez against CAA

Last Updated : 17 December 2019, 22:21 IST
Last Updated : 17 December 2019, 22:21 IST

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Political battle over the amended citizenship law raged on Tuesday as the opposition took its fight against the "divisive" legislation to the President, even as an unfazed Home Minister Amit Shah asserted that "come what may" non-Muslims from three neighbouring countries will get Indian citizenship.

As several opposition parties closed ranks against the changes in the Citizenship Act with Congress president Sonia Gandhi accusing the government of "shutting down" people's voices, Prime Minister Narendra Modi took them on and charged her party and its "friends" with spreading lies and creating fear among Muslims.

With the BJP hoping for a consolidation of voters amid protests over the contentious law, Modi dared the opposition at an election rally in Jharkhand to declare that it will accord Indian nationality to all Pakistanis.

He also challenged them to support re-introduction of Article 370 in Jammu and Kashmir and scrap the law against instant triple talaq, two other ideological planks of the saffron party.

"I give an open challenge to the Congress and its friends from this land of the brave... If they have courage, let them openly announce that they are ready to give Indian citizenship to all Pakistanis," Modi said.

Opposition parties, badly outnumbered in Parliament and often outwitted in the electoral field by the BJP, seized on the issue to mount a fresh attack on the Modi government amid criticism from some quarters over police action against Jamia Millia Islamia students and more protests in the country.

Sonia Gandhi led a delegation of 12 opposition parties, including the Trinamool Congress, the Samajwadi Party, and those from the Left, to President Ram Nath Kovind.

The delegation urged him to intervene on the issue of violence in central universities and to advise the Modi government to withdraw the "unconstitutional and divisive" Citizenship (Amendment) Act.

She said the unrest that began in the Northeast is now spreading throughout the country, including the national capital.

"It is a very serious situation. We fear that it may spread even further. We are anguished at the manner in which the police have dealt with peaceful demonstrations across India," Gandhi told reporters after the meeting.

She said police personnel entered women's hostels in Jamia Millia Islamia and "mercilessly" beat up students.

"I think you all have seen that the BJP government i.e. the Modi government seems to have no compulsion when it comes to shutting down people's voices and implement a legislation, which do not seem to be acceptable to the people and to us in a democracy," the Congress chief said

Trinamool Congress leader Derek O'Brien said they asked the President to advise the government to withdraw this "diabolical, divisive Act".

According to the amended law, members of Hindu, Sikh, Buddhist, Jain, Parsi and Christian communities, who have come from Pakistan, Bangladesh and Afghanistan till December 31, 2014 due to religious persecution there, will not be treated as illegal immigrants but given Indian citizenship.

Amid attack by the opposition, Amit Shah, who is also the BJP president, underscored his government's resolve to implement the Act, asserting that the Modi government will ensure that the non-Muslim refugees from Pakistan, Bangladesh and Afghanistan get Indian nationality and live in the country with honour.

Those, who are against the new law, can oppose the legislation as much as they can, he said.

"Come what may, the Modi government is firm that it will ensure these refugees get Indian citizenship and live as Indians with honour," he said at an event here.

The home minister said no Indian will lose his or her nationality due to the Citizenship (Amendment) Act, 2019 (CAA) and the legislation has been enacted to give citizenship to persecuted minorities of the three neighbouring countries.

He asked students who are opposing the legislation to read it properly and understand its meaning.

"I want to tell our Muslim bothers and sisters, you don't need to fear. Those who are living in India, there is no need to fear. No one is going to lose Indian citizenship. The Congress is trying to mislead people. The legislation is on the website. Read it. Narendra Modi believes in 'sabka saath, sabka vikas'. No injustice will be done to anyone," he said.

Some opposition leaders have already moved the Supreme Court against the Act, and the matter is slated to be heard on Wednesday.

Published 17 December 2019, 22:21 IST

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