RSS calls Citizenship Bill passage a 'courageous step'

Last Updated : 12 December 2019, 11:23 IST
Last Updated : 12 December 2019, 11:23 IST

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RSS general secretary Bhaiyyaji Joshi on Thursday congratulated Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Union Home Minister Amit Shah for the passage of the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill in Parliament and described it as a "courageous step".

Talking to reporters here, Joshi said all should rise above their political compulsions and welcome the bill.

He said the stand of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) has always been that a Hindu who comes to India because of persecution in another country cannot be termed as an intruder, but a refugee.

The bill, which seeks to provide Indian citizenship to non-Muslim refugees from Pakistan, Afghanistan and Bangladesh, was passed by the Rajya Sabha on Wednesday. The Lok Sabha passed it on Monday.

Joshi dubbed it as a "courageous step" and thanked the BJP-led central government, the prime minister and the Home Minister for taking the initiative.

"When the country was partitioned, there was a demand for division on religious grounds. However, India did not have any such idea of forming a 'religious country'. But, the country was partitioned over this issue and the leaders then had accepted it," he said.

If partition had not taken place on religious grounds, then many incidents thereafter would not have happened, the RSS general secretary said.

"Subsequently, Pakistan and Bangladesh declared themselves as Islamic states and there were doubts then about what place the minorities residing there will get...because as per the agreement, it was said that the minorities will not face any injustice," said Joshi.

Unfortunately, this did not happen and the Hindus residing there in large numbers "became the target of persecution", he said.

Looking at the census conducted from time-to-time, the number of Hindus residing in Afghanistan, Pakistan and Bangladesh came down drastically, he said.

"The question arises where these people went, and it comes to fore that many of them came to India," he said.

The Hindus persecuted in these countries had no other place to go than India, where they could live a life of respect and security and hence, they kept coming to India.

"However, due to the lack of provisions in the law, these people were deprived of the citizenship of India for many years. There was a huge need that these persecuted people may not be called as 'intruders' but termed as refugees, and this was outstanding from quite some time," Joshi said.

"There is a need for these refugees to have a respectable life and common rights in our country. But, a lot of time passed and these refugees had to wait," Joshi said.

But, the present government has taken a "very good step" and the minority communities from Pakistan, Bangladesh and Afghanistan will get a respectable place in India, he said.

The bill provides an "assurance" (of a respectable life) to the refugees who come to India, he added.

"I feel this bill has assured the minorities coming from these countries, and we welcome them and express our happiness for them. Now, their refugee status will end and they will live as citizens and will get benefits of the citizens' rights in the country," he said.

Joshi said all should rise above political compulsions and welcome this bill.

"The Home Minister has repeatedly said that the bill does not pose any threat to the Muslim community in our country and no one's rights will be curtailed," he said.

On protests in some northeastern states following the passage of the bill, Joshi said, "Some states have certainly witnessed unrest, but I am confident that the Centre will take steps to check rumours in the north-east and clear doubts of the people there. They will keep living as earlier."

Joshi also expressed hope that the refugees who get Indian citizenship will be able to live peacefully.

Published 12 December 2019, 09:02 IST

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