Ten days after Indian President Ram Nath Kovind signed a landmark citizenship bill into law for religiously persecuted minorities from the Islamic neighbourhood, Prime Minister Narendra Modi said Congress and city-based Maoists are instigating riots by spreading blatant lies about the new law.
In a 100-minute speech while addressing a party rally in Delhi on Sunday, Modi said fake videos and messages are being circulated by these fear-mongers to fuel mob attacks in some parts of India.
Muslims are being misled into believing that they will be deprived of their citizenship once the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) is implemented.
This is totally wrong, Modi said, adding that the law does not apply to Indian citizens. It gives citizenship and does not take it away from anyone.
It applies to non-Muslims who had been living in refugee camps in India over the years after fleeing religious persecution in Pakistan, Afghanistan and Bangladesh.
From Mahatma Gandhi and Jawaharlal Nehru to Tarun Gogoi, Manmohan Singh and Ashok Ghelot, Congress leaders were concerned about the fate of minorities such as Hindus and Sikhs who faced religious persecution in Muslim-majority Pakistan and Bangladesh. They were in favour of giving sanctuary to these people in India.
Chief Minister of Bengal Mamata Banerjee and Communist leader Prakash Karat wanted minority refugees from Bangladesh to be taken care of.
Congress governments at the Centre ignored the plight of these refugees for decades. When the Modi government finally passed a new law this month giving them citizenship to live a life with dignity, Congress started a misinformation campaign to instigate gullible Muslims and others to indulge in violent street protests, the prime minister said.
Mamata too reversed her stand on refugees maybe because of the fear of losing her vote bank.
Those who question the new citizenship law must respect the parliament which passed the bill. All doubts of Oppositions MPs over the bill were cleared by Home Minister Amit Shah during debates before it was put to vote in both Houses of Parliament.
After the citizenship bill was signed into law, Congress kept misleading people by linking CAA with the National Register of Citizens (NRC).
Modi clarified that CAA is in no way related to NRC which is being monitored by India’s top court. Moreover, NRC has not been finalised yet.
While stoking fear over NRC, Congress seems to forget that the register was its own brainchild, he said.
The present government views all citizens, including Muslims, as the children of Mother India. When 400,000 homes were planned for the homeless in Delhi, the government did not ask the potential beneficiaries which religion they belonged to.
Similarly, when Delhi’s firefighters and police recently rescued dozens of workers from a building on fire, they never bothered about the religion of the survivors they were carrying on their back.
Unfortunately, mobs protesting against CAA are attacking police and even schoolchildren and small shopkeepers.
Let protesters burn Modi’s effigies instead of torching public property, he said.
By instigating violence, Congress is attempting to shame India. But such efforts are bound to fail since India’s ties with Bangladesh and Middle East countries are at a new high, he said.
Without naming them, Modi gave a stern warning to some of the chief ministers who publicly announced that they would not implement the new citizenship law in their respective states.
The prime minister said they should have first consulted their legal aides before making such irresponsible statements.