- "Congress, allies spreading rumours about detention centres": PM Modi
- "Muslims of India don't need to worry at all," he said
- "Lies are being spread," PM said on NRC
Prime Minister Narendra Modi today denied that there were any detention centres in India, and implied that the nationwide rollout of citizens' list -- a matter referred to repeatedly by his home minister Amit Shah -- may not be happening. The Congress and the "urban Naxals", he said, were spreading rumours and brainwashing anyone unclear about it.
"The Congress and its allies - some urban Naxals -- are spreading rumors that all Muslims will be sent to detention centers... Neither is anybody sending the country's Muslims to detention centres nor are there any detention centres in India... The Muslims of India don't need to worry at all. The CAB and the NRC will not apply to the Muslims of the country," PM Modi said at a mega rally at Ramlila Maidan, meant to launch the BJP's campaign for the assembly elections in Delhi.
"I want to tell the 130 crore citizens of India that since my government has come to power, since 2014, there has been no discussion on NRC anywhere. Only after the Supreme Court's order, this exercise was done for Assam," he said in his 97-minute speech, most of it devoted to the NRC and the new citizenship law, protests against which are being held across the country.
"Lies are being spread. There are leaders who told in TV interviews that NRC across India will involve such heavy expenses but I want to say why you are you wasting your mental energy in something that is not even there. (Jo hai hi nahi usme kahaan itna dimag khapa rahe ho rey)," he added.
The National Register of Citizens - meant to weed out illegal migrants from the country - was rolled out in Assam earlier this year and left 19 lakh people out, who are now unable to prove their citizenship. Many of them are now in detention centres across Assam.
Critics have said the system of compiling the citizens' list leaves out not just Muslims but the poor and the uneducated who might eventually end up as stateless people.
The Citizenship (Amendment) Act makes religion the test of citizenship in India for the first time. The government says it will help minorities from three Muslim-dominated countries to get citizenship if they fled to India because of religious persecution. Critics say it is designed to discriminate against Muslims and violates the secular principles of the constitution.
Since the amended law was passed on December 11, protests have swept the country. The biggest of these was held on Thursday, when protesters in 13 cities had raised their voices, some defying police orders and others, prohibitory orders banning large gatherings, triggering violence in which four people died. Thirteen more died in Uttar Pradesh since.
On Friday, Congress chief Sonia Gandhi attacked the centre, accusing the government of "brute repression" and showing "utter disregard" for people's voices in the nationwide protests. "The BJP government has chosen to use brute force to suppress dissent. This is unacceptable in a democracy," the Congress president said in a televised message.