AHMEDABAD: While Muslims can choose any one of the 150 Islamic countries in the world (for residence), India is the only country for Hindus, Gujarat Chief Minister Vijay Rupani said on Tuesday while justifying the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA).
While addressing a rally in support of the CAA outside the Sabarmati Ashram here, the chief minister slammed the Congress for opposing the new law that grants Indian citizenship to non-Muslim refugees from Afghanistan, Pakistan and Bangladesh who have migrated till December 31, 2014.
He accused the Congress of not honouring the wishes of Mahatma Gandhi and former prime minister Manmohan Singh on the issue.
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"There were 22 per cent Hindus in Pakistan at the time of Partition (in 1947). Now, due to persecution, rapes and constant torture, their population has reduced to just 3 per cent. That is why Hindus want to come back to India. We are doing what the Congress was supposed to do to help these distressed Hindus. And when we are doing it now, you are opposing it," said Rupani.
He said the Hindu population has shrunken to just 2 per cent in Bangladesh.
"Out of 2 lakh Hindu and Sikh residents in Afghanistan some decades back, their number is just 500 today. Muslims can go to any of the 150 countries, but there in only country for the Hindus, and that is India. So what is the problem if they want to come back?" asked Rupani.
Seeking to counter protests against the Citizenship (Amendment) Act in various of the country, Gujarat BJP leaders and government functionaries on Tuesday took part in such pro-CAA rallies across all 33 districts of the state.
The rallies and demonstrations were organised by 'Nagrik Samitis' (citizen committees) having support of the RSS.
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"Gandhiji was also of the opinion that India should grant citizenship to Hindus and Sikhs of Pakistan. Even Manmohan Singh had supported such proposal when he was the PM (under the Congress rule). The Congress must explain to the nation why the party is opposing the CAA now," said Rupani.
Without taking names, Rupani also targetted Dalit leaders and outfits opposing the new citizenship law.
"There are 10,000 refugees from these countries living in Gujarat. Most of them who are living in Kutch are dalits, like Maheshwari and Meghwal communities. Dalit leaders need to explain why they are not in favour of granting citizenship to these dalit refugees. By opposing the CAA, these dalit leaders have been exposed," said Rupani.
The BJP leader further said it was "misfortune of India" to have parties and leaders like the "Congress, the Communists and (West Bengal CM) Mamata Banerjee".
He accused them of "inciting" Muslims and other people to fulfill "their own political agenda and destabilise the government".
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"It appears that these parties are having fear that they may have to lose power if Hindus become citizens and illegal immigrants thrown out under the National Register of Citizens (NRC)," the CM said.
He said the BJP government in Gujarat has already started granting citizenship to such persecuted refugees.
Retired High Court Justice S M Soni, who heads Ahmedabad Nagrik Samiti, defended the CAA saying it does not violate any provisions of the Constitution as contended in some petitions filed before the supreme court against the act.
"The Act does not bar a Muslim from applying for Indian citizenship. He can do so by following proper procedures. This Act does not discriminate. Provisions of the Constitution does not apply to those who are yet to become citizens. This Act has fulfilled the dream of Mahatma Gandhi," said Soni.
Various BJP leaders and ministers attended similar events organised in different parts of state throughout the day.
In Surat, Forest Minister Ganpat Vasava and a large number of residents took part in a demonstration held near the collector's office and extended their support to the CAA.
Surat MP Darshana Jardosh and local MLAs Purnesh Modi and Vivek Patel also participated in a protest in support of the new law.