Citizenship Amendment Act: Amit Shah calls for more talks

Assures that people will not be affected by the act
Protestors shout slogans during a protest against the Citizenship Amendment Bill, a bill that seeks to give citizenship to religious minorities persecuted in neighbouring Muslim countries, outside the Jamia Millia Islamia University in New Delhi, India, December 13, 2019. Photo: Reuters

After Meghalaya chief minister Conrad Sangma raised concerns over the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) causing "problems" in his state, Indian Home Minister Amit Shah invited him for talks post-Christmas to discuss the issue, reports the Hindustan Times.

Amit Shah said he wants to assure the people of Assam and other states of the northeast that their culture, language, social identity and political rights will not be affected by the act.

Protesters have clashed with the police in several areas of the northeast since Parliament approved the amended act earlier in the week, triggering a debate on whether the grant of citizenship could be linked to religion.

The new law allows citizenship to Hindus, Parsis, Sikhs, Jains, Christians and Buddhists fleeing persecution in Pakistan, Afghanistan and Bangladesh. It has roiled the northeast, which has for long demanded protections to safeguard its cultural identity.

The violence continued on Saturday in the northeast, which saw several incidents of arson and the killing of one person, taking the death toll in the protests up to three.

"It is the responsibility of the government under the leadership of Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi to protect them," the Bharatiya Janata Party's president said at an election rally in Jharkhand's Giridih on Saturday.

Shah, who was addressing his first poll rally after the citizenship law was amended, said Meghalaya's chief minister Conrad Sangma and his cabinet ministers met him on Friday to discuss the issue, the Hindustan Times reported.

"They said there is a problem in Meghalaya. I tried to make them understand that there is no issue. Yet, they requested me to change something (in the act). I have asked Sangma ji to come to me when he is free after Christmas and we can think of a constructive a solution for Meghalaya. Nobody has anything to fear," he said.

The grand old party had a habit of branding important steps like the ban on triple talaq, scrapping of Article 370 and citizenship for religiously persecuted minorities as anti-minority since it was accustomed to vote bank politics, the Hindustan Times quoted him as saying.

"Congress has for years done Hindu-Muslim politics and encouraged evils like Naxalism and terrorism. When a Prime Minister like Narendra Modi takes a strong stand against terrorism, the Congress accuses him of vote bank politics and appeasement," he later tweeted.

Shah attacked Rahul Gandhi, saying the former Congress president is making "noises" and is ignorant of India's history as he has "Italian sunglasses" on.

"Even a district youth president of our party can give an account of the developmental work done during the five years of BJP-led rule in Jharkhand than what Rahul Gandhi's Congress has done during 55 years of its rule," he said.

"Rahul Gandhi and Hemant Soren ask why is the Kashmir issue important in Jharkhand elections?... The youth of this state is securing the borders of this country. But, Rahul Gandhi does not know history because he has Italian sunglasses on his eyes," he said.

The home minister also accused the Congress of "encouraging" Naxalism, "handing over" Kashmir to terrorists and dragging Ayodhya issue for years.

Shah addressed three election rallies in Giridih, Baghmara and Deoghar seats in Jharkhand where assembly elections are being held.


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