'CAA not anti-Muslim, lots of misconception about it'

Minister of State for PMO Jitendra Singh. (PTI Photo)

Union Minister Jitendra Singh on Saturday defended the Citizenship (Amendment) Act, saying it is not anti-Muslim and described the "apprehensions and misconception" surrounding the newly enacted legislation as "unfounded and motivated".

Seeking to allay the "needless fear-psychosis" sought to be created in certain sections of the society, he said the only purpose of the Act is to ensure the wellbeing of the minorities who have been "persecuted on the basis of religion" in Pakistan, Bangladesh and Afghanistan.

"The Citizenship Amendment Act is not anti-Muslim from any angle and the misconceptions and apprehensions surrounding the Act is unfounded and motivated," Singh told reporters here.

The Union Minister of State for PMO said since Muslims are neither in minority in Pakistan, Bangladesh and Afghanistan nor do they face any persecution because of their religious affiliation in these countries which have Islam as their State religion, they are obviously not included in the Citizenship (Amendment) Act.

However, Singh said, this does not mean that a foreigner of any religion from any country, including a Muslim, cannot apply for Indian citizenship.

"If he or she is eligible to do so as per Section 6 of the Citizenship Act, 1955, he or she can apply. The CAA brought in by this government does not change those provisions," he said.

At the same time, the minister said the Act does not in any way discriminate against Indian Muslims who are bona fide citizens.

Singh appealed to the members of the Muslim community to read the newly enacted law thoroughly so that they would understand that there is not a single word or phrase in the entire Act which even indirectly suggests any discrimination against Indian Muslims.

He said from time to time, over the last half a century, successive Congress governments had expressed concerns over the hardships suffered by minority communities in these three neighbouring countries.

Singh also referred to the assurance given by Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru in Parliament on November 5, 1950, where he had said, "There is no doubt, of course, that those displaced persons who had come to settle in India are bound to have the citizenship. If the law is inadequate in this respect, the law should be changed". 

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