"Will US Give Citizenship To Palestinians?" Harish Salve On CAA Remarks

harish Salve slammed the US stance and questioned its legitimacy, asking if the US would open its borders to persecuted minorities around the world.

'Will US Give Citizenship To Palestinians?' Harish Salve On CAA Remarks

The Citizenship Amendment Act was first proposed in 2019.

New Delhi:

Veteran lawyer Harish Salve, in an exclusive interview with NDTV, delivered a scathing critique of the recent comments made by the United States regarding the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA). The US State Department this week remarked that the American government was closely monitoring the implementation of the CAA, expressing concerns about its potential impact on religious freedom in India. 

Responding to these remarks, Mr Salve slammed the US stance and questioned its legitimacy, asking if the US would open its borders to persecuted minorities around the world.

"Will America give open citizenship to Ahmadiyyas of Pakistan, the Rohingyas of Myanmar or the poor Palestinians who are being mercilessly killed? If not then I say, America, shut up."

He urged the US to reconsider its support for Israel and focus on addressing its internal challenges rather than lecturing other countries.

The Citizenship law concerns only Hindus, Sikhs, Christians, Parsis, Buddhists, or Jains from three Muslim-majority nations - Bangladesh, Afghanistan, and Pakistan - who fled due to religious persecution and entered India on or before December 31, 2014.

"Things changed in Pakistan which has declared itself an Islamic state. Bangladesh also calls itself an Islamic republic. And we all know Afghanistan's misfortune with the Taliban," Mr Salve told NDTV.

"In a situation like this, the Home Minister has said, how the non-Islamic population in these countries has dropped dramatically. So if India says people who are of Indian ethnicity, of the Indian subcontinent, the Zoroastrians, Sikhs, Christians, Hindus... They will get fast-track citizenship since they are not allowed to practice their own religion freely in these Islamic states," he added.

Addressing the broader issue of opening borders to persucuted minorities, Mr Salve said that India's capacity to accommodate refugees was limited by its resources. He questioned the selective inclusion of certain countries in the CAA and argued against the notion of discrimination, citing examples from Sri Lanka and Myanmar, which are not theocratic states.

"Should we open our borders to all? I wish God had endowed us with the resources," Mr Salve told NDTV. "Why just include Pakistan, Afghanistan and Bangladesh and not Sri Lanka or Myanmar? It is because Sri Lanka and Myanmar are not theocratic states."

According to the government, the CAA does not restrict Muslims from applying for Indian citizenship if they face persecution in the aforementioned countries due to their religious beliefs. "CAA does not cancel naturalisation laws. Therefore, any person, including Muslim migrants from foreign countries, seeking to be an Indian citizen, can apply," a government statement read. 

The Citizenship Amendment Act, initially proposed in 2019, sparked nationwide protests and sectarian violence, resulting in casualties, including in the national capital. Critics have raised objections, claiming that the CAA discriminates against Muslims and could be used in conjunction with the National Population Register (NPR) and National Register of Citizens (NRC) to target minority groups, however, the government has rejected all such claims.