AMID THE ongoing protests, Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Sunday said some sections were trying to “misguide” the youth on the Citizenship (Amendment) Act (CAA) which, he said, is “a law to provide citizenship, not snatch it away”.
Addressing a gathering at Belur Math, the headquarters of Ramakrishna Mission, on the second day of his visit here, Modi said: “Aaj rashtriya yuva divas pe main phir se desh ke nawjawanon ko, Paschim Bangal ke naujawanon ko, North-East ke naujawanon ko… zaroor kuch kehna chahta hun. Aisa nahin hain ke desh ki nagarikatwa dene ki liye raaton raat koi naya kanoon banaya gaya hain. Hub sabko pata hona chahiye ke doosre desh se kisi bhi dharam ke, koi bhi vyakti, jo Bharat mein aastha rakhta hai, Bharat ke samvidhan ko maanta hain, Bharat ke nagarikatwa le sakta hain, koi duvidha nahin hain is mein.”
(On the occasion of national youth day, I want to tell the youth of the country, the youth of West Bengal, the youth of North-East that the law to grant citizenship was not changed overnight. We should all know that any person from any country, of any religion, who believes in India and its Constitution, can be granted Indian citizenship. There’s no doubt about this.)
“Main phir kahoonga CAA nagarikatwa cheen lene ke liye nahin, yeh nagarikatwa dene ki kanoon hain… Hum badalaav yeh kiya hain, Bharat ki nagarikatwa lene ki sahuliyat aur bada diya dain. Yeh sahuliyat kis ke liye badai hain? Un logon ke liye badai hain jin par batwaren ke baad bane Pakistan main unki dharam aastha ke wajay se atyachar hui,” said Modi.
(I will reiterate that CAA is not about taking away citizenship, but about granting it… The change that we have brought is that we have made the process to get Indian citizenship easier. Who have we done this for? It is for those people who, after Partition, had to face persecution due to their religion, faith, in Pakistan.)
The Prime Minister said the dispute that has arisen over CAA has made the world take notice of the persecution of minorities in Pakistan. “Had we not amended the citizenship law, this “vivaad” (dispute) would not have arisen. Had this dispute not arisen, the world would not have known about the kind of atrocities that were perpetrated on the (religious) minorities in Pakistan… It’s the result of our initiative that Pakistan will have to answer for its acts of oppression against the minorities there,” he said.
West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee, who said she had asked him to repeal CAA during a “courtesy meeting” with him on Saturday, was not present at any of Modi’s programmes on Sunday.
“We’ve only done what Mahatma Gandhi had said decades ago. Should we send these refugees back to die? Are they our responsibility or not? Should we make them our citizens or not?” said Modi.
He said some sections with political interests were deliberately spreading rumours about the new citizenship law, despite “complete clarity” on the CAA. Seeking the help of the youth to spread awareness on CAA, he said: “The youth have understood the issue, but those who want to indulge in politics over it will not… What is there in this Act? Why was it needed? There are many questions in the minds of people, which has been fuelled by various sections. Most of the youth have understood it. But there are some who are victims of misconception and rumours. It is our responsibility to make these people understand. It is our duty to satisfy them on this issue.”
Seeking to assuage the concerns of the people of the North-East, Modi called the region “our pride”. “Their culture, traditions and demography remain untouched by this amended law,” he said.
Meanwhile, waving black flags and chanting anti-Modi slogans, a group of protesters gathered outside Netaji Indoor Stadium, where Modi addressed a function to mark 150 years of Kolkata Port Trust and renamed it after Jana Sangh founder Syama Prasad Mookerjee. They were quickly bundled into police vehicles and whisked away.
Modi, who spent the night at Belur Math, paid tribute to Swami Vivekananda on his birth anniversary, and spent some time in his room.
[PTI adds: Soon after Modi left the premises, the monastic order distanced itself from his speech, saying it is an apolitical organisation where people of all religious faiths live like “brothers of same parents”. “Ramakrishna Mission will not comment on PM’s speech. We are strictly an apolitical body. We cannot comment on the PM’s speech on CAA. We have come here after leaving our homes to answer to eternal call. We do not respond to ephemeral call,” Ramakrishna Math and Mission general secretary Swami Suvirananda, told reporters.
“We are above politics. To us Narendra Modi is the leader of India and Mamata Banerjee is the leader of West Bengal,” he said, adding “we are inclusive as an organisation which has monks from Hindu, Islam, Christian (faiths). We live like more than brothers of same parents”.]