'Proof Of Religious Persecution Not Possible But...': BJP's Himanta Sarma

PM Narendra Modi and the BJP have maintained that the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) is essential to help non-Muslims who have faced religious persecution.

Himanta Biswa Sarma (right) with PM Narendra Modi in Assam. (File)

Assam minister and the BJP's key strategist Himanta Biswa Sarma on Friday said that those applying for citizenship under the Citizenship Amendment Law cannot prove if they face religious persecution but the central government will work out a process to verify their claims.

"There can be no proof of religious persecution. But they will need proof that they came before 2014. How can there be proof of religious persecution? Will any police station in Bangladesh give them a document that says they faced religious persecution?" he said.

"But the Indian government will have some in-house processes to check whether the place that they are coming from had any incident of atrocities against minorities," Mr Sarma added.

The controversial Citizenship Amendment Law, which came into effect last week, promises citizenship to non-Muslim refugees from Pakistan, Afghanistan and Bangladesh before December 31, 2014.

The law, which makes religion a test of Indian citizenship for the first time, goes against the principles of the constitution and can be used to target Muslims who cannot prove their ancestry, critics have said.

Protests have also raged in north-eastern states, including Assam, against the law as indigenous communities fear the law could legalise lakhs of immigrants who have come in from Bangladesh over the decades.

But Prime Minister Narendra Modi and the BJP have maintained that the law is essential to help those who have faced religious persecution in the three countries.

Asked about the condition, Himanta Biswa Sarma said proving religious persecution may prove challenging for the applicants and it was up to the Indian government to verify the claims.

Several states including Kerala, West Bengal and Punjab have said the law will not implemented there. The law has been challenged in the Supreme Court too.

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