Mounting a strong defence of the new citizenship law, Prime Minister Narendra Modi said on Sunday the dispute that has arisen over it has made the world
aware of persecution of religious minorities in Pakistan.
He, however, deplored that a section of the youth is being misguided over the Citizenship (Amendment) Act, which is aimed at giving and not taking away anybody’s citizenship.
“CAA is not about taking away citizenship, it is about giving citizenship. Today, on National Youth Day, I would like to tell this to the youngsters of India, West Bengal, North East that this is not an overnight law for giving citizenship.
“We must all know that any person of any religion from any country of the world who believes in India and its Constitution can apply for Indian citizenship through due process. There’s no problem in that,” he told a gathering at Belur Math, the headquarters of Ramakrishna Mission.
In his speech, PM Modi invoked Mahatma Gandhi and said even the Father of the Nation had favoured Indian citizenship for those fleeing religious persecution and that his government has only delivered on the wishes of freedom fighters.
Referring to anti-CAA protests in the North-East, PM Modi vowed to protect the distinct identity and culture of the people of the region, and asserted the new law will not hurt their interests.
PM Modi said some people with political interests are deliberately spreading rumours about the new citizenship law, despite “complete clarity” over the CAA.
“Our initiative to amend the citizenship has created a dispute. It is the result of our initiative that Pakistan will now have to answer why they have been persecuting minorities for the last 70 years. Human rights have been demolished in Pakistan,” he said.
Seeking to assuage the concerns of the people of the North-East, PM Modi called the region “our pride”. “Their culture, traditions and demography remains untouched by this amended law,” he said.
He said the citizenship law was only “changed a little” for those who were ill-treated in Pakisan after Partition.
PM Modi said five years ago, there was disappointment among the youth of the country, but the situation has changed now.
PM Modi, an ardent devotee of Vivekananda, spent the night at the Math.
He has a long association with the Ramakrishna Mission order founded by Vivekananda in 1897. Inspired by the teachings of Vivekananda, Modi had arrived at the Mission Ashram in Gujarat’s Rajkot and expressed desire to join the order.
Swami Atmasthananda, who later went on to become the 15th president of the Ramakrishna Math and Mission, then headed the Rajkot branch and had advised him that sanyas was not for him and that he should work among people.
On Sunday, the prime minister paid tributes to Swami Vivekananda on his birth anniversary, which is celebrated as the National Youth Day, and spent some time in the spiritual leader’s room in quietude.