Protecting 'persecuted minorities' is India’s duty: PM

PM Modi at Changsari near Guwahati on Saturday. (Photo by Manash Das, Guwahati)

In what could anger the protesters in the Northeast against NDA’s Citizenship (Amendment) Bill, Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Saturday stressed that protecting the "persecuted minorities" from Pakistan, Bangladesh and Afghanistan is India's responsibility.

We should try to understand the difference between the infiltrators, who are trying to capture our resources and the minorities who were forced to leave their homes for their lives. It is our responsibility to protect the persecuted minorities in Pakistan, Bangladesh or Afghanistan. During the Partition, they decided to stay back in those countries hoping to live in peace but what happened to them, you will understand only after meeting them. The minorities in those countries such as the Hindus, Sikhs, Jains, Parsis, Buddhists and the Christians took shelter in India. It was our national commitment to protect them and we have fulfilled it now,” Modi said at a rally at Changsari, about 20-km west of Guwahati.

The NDA passed the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill 2019 in the Lok Sabha on January 8 but remained pending in the Rajya Sabha. It seeks to allow such “persecuted” migrants from the three countries to apply for Indian citizenship after a stay of six years.

Modi’s statement was read by the agitating organisations in Assam as against the Muslims and to appease its Hindu vote bank. They fear that indigenous people would be reduced into minorities and are against giving citizenship to illegal migrants” irrespective of religion.

Modi said misinformation was being spread by the party, which ruled the country for 55 years but did nothing to implement the Assam Accord, that promised to detect, delete and deport illegal migrants.

This bill is not related to the Northeast alone but the entire country. Let me assure today that iI will not allow the interests of the people of Assam to hamper. Citizenship will be given only after proper scrutiny and recommendation by the state government. We want to implement Clause VI of the Accord that promised to protect the identity of the indigenous people. We are also implementing the NRC under the supervision of the Supreme Court,” Modi said.

Earlier, at a function near Itanagar, Modi asked people in Arunachal Pradesh to compare Congress’ 55 years with the works done in NDA’s 55 months at the Centre. “We have sanctioned funds of Rs. 44,000 crore to Arunachal Pradesh so far, which is double of the last government. Despite being a strategically important state, youths in Arunachal were not given importance nor were the jawans, who are guarding our borders,” Modi said, soon after laying the foundation of a greenfield airport at Hollongi near Itanagar. 

In his third function at Agartala, Modi also criticised Congress and the left parties, which ruled Tripura before BJP wrested power last year.

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