Why Parsis, Christians CAA Eligible But Not Muslims? Amit Shah Explains

CAA, Amit Shah said, is a "special Act" for persecuted minorities from three countries who crossed the border without any valid document

Union Home Minister Amit Shah has countered the Opposition amid the row over CAA

New Delhi:

Amid the row surrounding the implementation of the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA), Home Minister Amit Shah today tackled a key question: why are Parsis and Christians eligible under CAA, but not Muslims? The CAA aims to provide citizenship to persecuted minorities from Pakistan, Afghanistan and Bangladesh who arrived in India before December 31, 2014.

In an interview to news agency ANI, Mr Shah was asked why the Act allows even Parsis and Christians - religions not born in India - to seek citizenship, but not Muslims. "That (area) is not a part of India today because of a Muslim population. It was given for them. I believe it is our moral and Constitutional responsibility to give shelter to those who were part of Akhand Bharat and suffered religious persecution," he replied. Akhand Bharat is the concept of a united greater India that spans modern-day Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, the Maldives, Nepal, Myanmar, Pakistan, Sri Lanka and Tibet.

The Home Minister said Hindus accounted for 23 per cent of Pakistan's population at the time of Partition. "Now it is down to 3.7 per cent. Where did they go? These many people did not come here. Forced conversion took place, they were humiliated, treated as second-class citizens. Where will they go? Shouldn't our Parliament and political parties take a decision on this?"

He said Hindus accounted for 22 per cent of Bangladesh's population in 1951. "In 2011, this reduced to 10 per cent. Where did they go?"

"Afghanistan had about 2 lakh Sikhs and Hindus in 1992. Now, 500 are left. Don't they have the right to live according to their (religious) beliefs? When Bharat was one, they were ours. They are our brothers and sisters and mothers," he said.

Asked about persecuted communities such as Shia, Baloch and Ahmadiyya Muslims, he said, "The world over, this bloc is considered a Muslim bloc. Also, even Muslims can apply for citizenship here. The Constitution has a provision. They can apply and the Indian government will take a decision, keeping national security and other factors in mind, he said, adding that CAA is a "special Act" for persecuted minorities from three countries who crossed the border without any valid document.

Asked what about those who have no documents at all, Mr Shah said, "We will find a solution for those who do not have documents. But as per my estimates, more than 85 per cent of them have documents."