In a U-turn move on the government’s stand on the contentious Citizenship (Amendment) Act, BJP leader Himanta Biswa Sarma on Saturday said, “there can be no proof of religious persecution.”
“We cannot rule how a person has to prove that he is religiously persecuted. If we have this rule one will have to go to Bangladesh and obtain from a police station that he was religiously persecuted. Why will a police station in Bangladesh do this, why will Bangladesh give any such document?” said Sarma, who is also the BJP’s northeast strategist and NEDA convener.
However, balancing his eye-popping statement which somehow de-hyphenated ‘religious persecution’ and CAA, he explained that the Government of India has an in-house procedure for identifying the persecuted ones.
“However government of India has an in-house procedure in the back office and its agencies will assess if a particular applicant was there in the place he is mentioning. Rules for CAA are being made. The state government has held discussions with the Centre. And once the rules are ready, the state government will be in a position to remove the misconception about the number of people who would get citizenship,” he said.
However, the ‘in-house procedure’ remained unexplained by the minister.
Sarma’s statement sparked quickly as the opposition Congress picking it up attacked the government by taking to Twitter.
“Several BJP leaders have been giving contradictory statements on the unconstitutional CAA including the PM & HM. It is either to confuse the people or BJP itself has no idea about the Act?” Congress tweeted.
Yogendra Yadav, Swaraj India leader also attacked the government by saying, “Thanks Himanta Biswa Sarma for acknowledging that what your party spokespersons say on TV debates is a lie, that CAA rules have nothing to do with religious persecution. At least you are honest.”
Right after the CAA came in force, the nation-wide protests broke out demanding the withdrawal of the Act.
The Act says six minority communities, excluding Muslim community, from Pakistan, Afghanistan and Bangladesh can apply for the citizenship in India on the basis of persecution.
The CAA was also challenged in the Supreme Court which issued notice to the Centre on a batch of 59 petitions, all of them challenged its Constitutional validity.