The Punjab Assembly passed a resolution Friday demanding the repeal of the Citizenship (Amendment) Act and went beyond Kerala in seeking amendments to the forms/documentation associated with the National Population Register process.
In remarks outside the House later, Chief Minister Amarinder Singh said like Kerala, his government too would approach the Supreme Court on the issue of CAA. He made it clear that the Census in Punjab would be conducted on old parameters and new factors added by the Centre for the purpose of NPR would not be included.
Earlier, the Chief Minister, speaking in the House, said: “What is this happening in our country? So many people killed in UP, students protesting all over. This is exactly what happened in Germany in the 1930s. The Communists were targeted first and then Jews were killed. This is the time to speak up. Germans did not speak then, and they regretted it, but we have to speak now, so that we don’t regret later,” he said.
Targeting the Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) for its stand on the CAA and NRC, Amarinder Singh said the Akalis were supporting the legislation in Parliament and speaking in different voices to promote their political agenda. “I will send you a copy of Hitler’s Mein Kampf. Read it. What happened then is happening now. I will send a copy in Punjabi,” he said.
“Where will the 18 lakh people declared illegal in Assam go if other countries refuse to take them? Has anyone thought about it? Has the Home Minister even thought about what has to be done with the so-called illegal people,” he asked.
He said Muslim blood has been shed to defend this country. “Abdul Hamid, Param Vir Chakra, came from a small family in UP and made the supreme sacrifice in the 1965 Indo-Pak war. Brigadier Usman did so in the 1948 war. They did it for their country. What is going on? Where will poor people get birth certificates from? I am sorry to see this in my lifetime. I wish I was not here. You are breaking up the brotherhood,” he said.
The Assembly resolution, which was passed amid slogans of ‘Bole So Nihal Sat Sri Akal’ from Congress MLAs, said: “The CAA enacted by Parliament has caused countrywide anguish and social unrest with widespread protests all over the country. The State of Punjab also witnessed protests against this legislation, which were peaceful and involved all segments of our society.”
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Moved by Parliamentary Affairs Minister Brahm Mohindra, the resolution was tabled on the second day of the special session of the Assembly.
“Given the apprehensions about National Register of Citizens and that the National Population Register is a prelude to the NRC designed to deprive a section of persons from citizenship of India and implement CAA, this House further resolves that Central government should amend the forms/documentation associated with the NPR to allay such apprehension in the minds of the people and only thereafter undertake work of enumeration under NPR,” the resolution stated.
It said CAA seeks to negate the very secular fabric on which the Constitution of India is based. “It is divisive and stands for everything opposed to a free and fair democracy, which must enshrine equality for all. Alongside the religion-based discrimination in granting citizenship, it is apprehended that the CAA is also likely to endanger the linguistic and cultural identity of some sections of our people. CAA also envisages cancellation of the registration of Overseas Citizens of India (OCI) card holders, if they violate any law.”
The resolution stated that the CAA is aimed at distinguishing between illegal migrants on the basis of religion, which is not permissible under the Constitution that guarantees the right to equality and equal protection of laws to all persons.
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“CAA provides for granting citizenship for Hindus, Sikhs, Buddhists, Jains, Parsis and Christians, who had migrated to India before December 31, 2014 but not to members of the Muslim community. The ideology behind the CAA is inherently discriminatory and as far away as it can be from being a humanitarian measure,” it stated.
It said in the backdrop of these facts, it is evident that the CAA violates the secular identity of India, which is a basic feature of the Constitution. “Therefore, the House resolves to urge the Government of India to repeal the CAA to avoid any discrimination on the basis of religion in granting citizenship and to ensure equality before law for all religious groups in India.”
Leader of Opposition Harpal Singh Cheema of AAP, opposing the CAA/NRC, announced his party’s full support to the Punjab resolution, saying the move of the Union government was against the spirit of the Constitution.
The SAD-BJP members did not support the resolution though the Akalis did seem to backtrack from their stated position. While the Akalis had earlier said that they supported CAA but wanted Muslims included in it, on Friday they said they did not support the NRC. Bikram Majithia said the full picture about CAA only became clear after a detailed reading of the Act, and that many aspects were not known earlier. “If people have to stand in line and say where they were born, then we are against anything like this,” he said.
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