Amid protests against the new citizenship law across the country, BJP Thursday organised an event where families of Sodha community from Pakistan who are living in Rajkot on long-term visa (LTV) were greeted with flowers.
The party organised a meeting of intellectuals and party workers in Swaminarayan Gurukul, a school run by monks of Swaminarayan sect on Gondal Road of the city, to “raise public awareness about the Citizenship Amendment Act and to welcome Pakistani nationals living in India”.
Gujarat BJP spokesperson Bharat Pandya, Rajkot MP Mohan Kundariya, BJP’s Rajkot district unit president Devraj Sakhiya, former minister Jasuben Korat, local BJP MLAs and other local leaders of the party presented bouquets of flowers to the Pakistani nationals.
Bharat Boghra, general secretary of BJP’s Rajkot district unit, said that two Sodha families, each from Gondal and Jetpur towns, attended the event. “They were presented bouquets of flowers as a gesture that they were welcome here,” Boghra said.
Some photographs of the event showed Pandya presenting a bouquet of flowers to Bhammarsinh Sodha who had a BJP scarf wrapped around his neck even as Bhammarsinh’s son Mahendrasinh, also wearing a party scarf, was looking on. While 33-year-old Mahendrasinh, a native of Pabuhar in Tharparkar district in Sindh province of Pakistan, had immigrated to India 12 years ago and has acquired Indian citizenship now, his father Bhammarsinh and a few other members of his family are officially still Pakistani citizens. Bhammarsinh is living in India on LTV.
Bhanu Meta, another general secretary of Rajkot district unit of the BJP, however, claimed that no party scarf was distributed at the event. “We gave them flowers and told them that they were welcome in India. We also told them that CAA had been enacted for them and wished them that they get Indian citizenship very soon. They were not presented BJP scarves,” said Meta.
The objective of the event was to raise awareness about the CAA, Meta said. “There is much misunderstanding about CAA. It is meant only to grant citizenship to religious minorities from Pakistan, Afghanistan and Bangladesh and not to take anything away from anyone. This message needs to be spread,” the general secretary added.