Weeks after Prime Minister Narendra Modi assured the country that there has been no discussion on the National Register of Citizens (NRC) since his government was elected in 2014, Defence Minister Rajnath Singh on Monday asked why there should be objections to NRC, as every country has the right to know how many citizens and foreigners are living within its boundaries.
Addressing a rally in Mangaluru, Singh said: “On NRC, I want to ask you: should every country not know how many citizens live and foreigners live on its soil? I want to ask, doesn’t a country have the right to know how many people are its citizens?”
As the crowd shouted yes, Singh asked: “Phir NRC ban raha hai isme kya aapatti hai (then what’s the objection to the NRC?)”
Singh, however, added that it is not the BJP government that initiated the process. “NRC naam ki chidiya hum log lekar nahi aaye thhe…. NRC naam ki chidiya Supreme Court ke aadesh par iske pehle Congress ne… (we did not bring NRC. It was brought by the Congress government at the orders of the Supreme Court),” he said. “… (But) now the blame of this NRC is also (being laid) on us.”
Singh’s remarks come a month after PM Modi distanced his government from a pan-India NRC, saying at a public rally in Delhi on December 22 last year that the government has not held any discussions on it yet. Modi had said: “See if anything has happened on NRC. Lies are being spread. From the time my government came in 2014 till today… there was no discussion on NRC.”
Reiterating that neither the Citizenship (Amendment) Act, nor NRC would not hurt Indian Muslims, Singh said Monday that the government came up with CAA since minorities were not safe in “theocratic” countries in the region. “Pakistan, Bangladesh and Afghanistan are not secular states. These are theocratic states. Islam is the religion of these three states. India’s religion is not Hinduism; India is a secular country. That is why those who follow Islam cannot be persecuted in Pakistan, Bangladesh and Afghanistan,” he said.
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Singh urged BJP workers to “convince the Muslim brothers that we are not taking away their citizenship, and the misleading information is by the Opposition.”
The Defence Minister said Muslims from these three countries can get citizenship through due process. “I, as Home Minister in the last government, gave citizenship to (Pakistan-origin singer) Adnam Sami. Around 600 Muslims got citizenship in the last six years,” he said.
Singh also warned the Opposition against making the “Constitutional blunder” of passing resolutions against CAA in state Assemblies where they have a majority, and not to forget “rashtra dharm” (national duty) for their “vipaksh dharm” (Opposition duty).
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