CHANDIGARH: The BJP has roped in a youthful face -- 28-year-old Nauksham Chaudhary -- to go from village to village in the Muslim-dominated Mewat region of Haryana and allay the apprehensions of locals over the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA).
Talking to this correspondent, Nauksham, who lost the recent assembly elections from Punhana constituency on a BJP ticket, says, "I started the Jan Jagran Abhiyan campaign on January 5 from my ancestral village Pema Khera in Punhana as the party told me to spearhead the campaign in the Muslim dominated Mewat region of the state. I'm trying to clear the doubts of villagers on the CAA as they are being misled. When they ask me questions and all their doubts are cleared, they say they were told something else about the CAA."
Clad in a salwar kameez with her head covered by a dupatta, Nauksham, a masters in fashion, business and brand management from Milan in Italy and a graduate of Delhi's Miranda House, addresses small gatherings of 50 to 60 people and travels to 5-6 villages a day.
"The main question asked by everyone is why the Muslim community has not been included in the CAA and only Sikhs, Hindus and others from Pakistan, Afghanistan and Bangladesh are included. I tell them that in those countries Muslims are not a minority. They are in the majority as they are Islamic states. On this they agree," she says.
Nauksham says another question asked is whether they will be told to show proof that they are Indians and asked to leave the country if the CAA is implemented. "I tell them no one will be told to leave the country and one has to just show documentary proof they are residing in India or if there is no document, anyone they know can give a statement that they have been living here for long," she says.
Addressing the gathering in the cold weather, Nauksham reassures locals, "I am a part of you. I shall be the first to leave Mewat if you are told to leave."
She adds, "The other frequently asked question is would these people coming from other countries be a burden on them if they are given citizenship. I tell them they are a burden now as they are not citizens and have been living here for many years. Once they are given citizenship, they will have the right to education, vote and other facilities. Then they will not be a burden and they will pay taxes too.’’
Nauksham is campaigning against Aftab Ahmed and Mohammad Illiyas Khan who are the local legislators and minority leaders leading the anti-CAA and NRC agitations in the region.