- Amit Shah tried to assuage the apprehensions of protesters
- The amended law aims to provide citizenship to non-Muslim migrants
- Centre will do everything to provide citizenship to migrants, he said
Union Home Minister Amit Shah on Tuesday refused to back down in the face of nationwide protests against the amended Citizenship Act, saying that the centre will do everything in its power to provide citizenship to migrants from persecuted communities in neighbouring countries.
"Come what may, the Modi government will ensure that these refugees get Indian citizenship and live as Indians with honour," Amit Shah said at a rally in Delhi's Dwarka, even as fresh protests against the law broke out against the controversial law in Seelampur.
The amended law aims to provide citizenship to non-Muslim migrants from Pakistan, Afghanistan and Bangladesh who came to India until December 31, 2014. While rights activists and opposition parties allege that it discriminates on communal lines, stakeholders in the Northeast claim that the move will throw open the floodgates for illegal migrants into the region.
Violent protests that began in the Northeast against the law eventually shifted to the national capital, culminating in a police crackdown on the Jamia Millia Islamia University that sparked further agitations across the country.
Amit Shah tried to assuage the apprehensions of protesters, claiming that nobody's nationality would be lost because of the amended Citizenship Act. "I want to tell our students as well as Muslim brothers and sisters that there's nothing to fear. Nobody is going to lose Indian citizenship. The legislation is on the website for everybody to read. We believe in sabka saath, sabka vikas and injustice will not be done to anybody," he said, accusing the opposition Congress of trying to mislead the people.
The Home Minister maintained that the sole purpose of the law was to give citizenship to those who faced persecution in Pakistan, Bangladesh and Afghanistan. "Although these people were supposed to be given protection by Pakistan under the Nehru-Liaqat Pact, it did not happen. Where can they seek refuge -- the Hindus, Sikhs and other minorities -- if not India?" he asked, telling opposition politicians to take a first-hand look at their living conditions.
Addressing a rally in Jharkhand on Tuesday, Prime Minister Narendra Modi had challenged the opposition parties to either openly announce that they are "ready to grant Indian citizenship to every Pakistani" or take steps to restore Jammu and Kashmir's special status.