- Amit Shah spoke in Lucknow, one of the epicentres of protest
- "Won't withdraw citizenship law, no matter who protests," he said
- Mr Shah again accused the Congress and Samajwadi Party of spreading lies
The Citizenship Amendment Act will not be withdrawn come what may, Union Minister Amit Shah announced today in Lucknow, amid countrywide protests against the contentious law, driven by students and the civil society. Challenging opposition leaders to a debate, Amit Shah said: "Let me say this here and now, this law will not be withdrawn, no matter who protests... We are not scared of opposition, we were born in it."
Speaking in Lucknow - one of the epicentres of protest -- as part of the government's outreach to the people, Amit Shah accused the Congress and the Samajwadi Party of spreading lies about the law. "Mamata didi, Akhilesh-ji, Mayawati-ji, I dare you to a debate on the Citizenship Act anywhere in the country... I dare you to show me any clause in the bill that talks about taking away any one's citizenship," he said.
The BJP claims that the protests against the CAA are fallout of misinformation spread by the opposition. Mr Shah also accused the Congress of making such a law necessary - first through partition and then through inaction because of votebank politics.
"For 10 years the UPA government was there, and from Pakistan, Aalia, Malia, Jamalia used to come here and carry out terror attacks. Manmohan Singh or mauni baba did not say a word against it. It is because of your people from Uttar Pradesh that Modi-ji got a two-thirds majority government," he said.
Uttar Pradesh has seen some of the most violent protests over the citizenship law - in the first weeks after the law was passed in parliament, 20 people from the state had died in clashes with the police. The police have denied opening fire, though some of the protesters were seen to have bullet injuries.
Over the last week, Lucknow has been home to an indefinite protest by women, in the style of the peaceful protest at Delhi's Shaheen Bagh. Many of the protesters have been accused of "rioting" and "unlawful assembly" and had police cases slapped on them. Among them were the daughters of renowned Urdu poet Munawwar Rana - Sumaiya Rana and Fauzia Rana.
The police allegedly seized food and blankets of the protesters, who have been on a 24-hour vigil in the bitter winter. In a statement later, the police said the blankets were seized "after due process" and dismissed the other allegations.
The Lucknow protests have been part of a countrywide agitation against the Citizenship Amendment Act - which the government says will help minorities from Muslim-dominated Bangladesh, Pakistan and Afghanistan to get citizenship if they fled to India because of religious persecution -- will be used to target Muslims.
Critics -- among whom are students, activists, politicians, women and a number of celebrities - said the law, read along with the National Register of Citizens, the other controversial process meant to flush out illegal migrants, would be used to target Muslims.