The amended citizenship law is a potential "national security threat", Punjab Chief Minister Captain Amarinder Singh told the centre today, warning Union Law Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad the non-specific "language of the CAA" meant the "misguided legislation may be misused for infiltration". In an open letter to Mr. Prasad the Congress leader highlighted his position as the leader of a border state and expressed concern that potential attackers could gain entry by disguising themselves as a migrant fleeing religious persecution.
The Chief Minister also took to Twitter and asked if the ruling BJP "even knows what it's doing?"
"As the Chief Minister of a border state I have a grave concern. The language of the CAA does even require that any illegal migrant seeking its benefit need not be of Indian origin... any person claiming to be of the six religions could apply... and be eligible for citizenship. This could be misused for infiltration, particularly in border states," he wrote in his letter, raising a point of objection against the CAA that has apparently escaped the attention of its several critics.
I am seriously concerned that #CAA can be easily misused for infiltrating into the country, particularly in border states like Punjab. It's a potential threat to national security @rsprasad Ji. Does the @BJP4India led central govt even know what it's doing? 2/2— Capt.Amarinder Singh (@capt_amarinder) January 3, 2020
The Citizenship (Amendment) Act makes religion, for the first time, the test of citizenship. The government says it will help non-Muslims from three Muslim-dominated neighbours - Afghanistan, Bangladesh and Pakistan - become citizens if they fled to India because of religious persecution. Critics say it discriminates against Muslims and violates secular tenets of the Constitution.
The Chief Minister's concern comes after "large-scale" infiltration was reported along the state's International Border with Pakistan in September last year. Four terrorists belonging to a module of banned terrorist outfit Khalistan Zindabad Force were arrested and a cache of arms was recovered.
As the leader of the state, I took my oath under the Constitution @rsprasad Ji. I'm neither naive nor misguided & it's my duty to represent the voice of my people & Centre must pay heed to same. As the law minister, you'd know that #CAA fails the test of the Constitution. 1/2 pic.twitter.com/QKa68CDGi4— Capt.Amarinder Singh (@capt_amarinder) January 3, 2020
The letter also comes a day after Kerala became the first state to pass a resolution in the Assembly against the CAA and, in it, the Punjab Chief Minister hits back at criticism of the resolution.
Mr. Prasad, a lawyer by training, had dismissed such measures by states, claiming they should seek legal advice and reminding them of their "constitutional duty".
Captain Amarinder Singh replied: "We have done so".
"While you aggressively defend the CAA... I am afraid you have entirely missed the point of the resolution... it urges the Government of India to amend the CAA. The passing of a resolution... represents will and wisdom of persons spoken though their elected representatives. It is not only a matter of parliamentary privilege but constitutional duty to make known such views," he said.
Protests have broken out nationwide over the CAA, with dozens killed and lakhs taking to the streets. The Chief Ministers of several states - not ruled by the BJP - have voiced opposition.
Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan wrote to 11 counterparts, including Captain Singh, urging each to pass similar resolutions. Last month Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee wrote to her non-BJP chief Ministers as well, calling for unity in the fight against the CAA.
"It is my duty to represent the voice of my people and the centre must pay heed to the same. As the Law Minister you know the CAA fails the test of the Constitution," Captain Amarinder Singh wrote today, adding, "In a federal structure such as ours it is imperative the centre heed the voice which arises from the people of our States... laws are not to be forcibly imposed".