Kerala Governor Arif Mohammad Khan on Sunday said that the amended Citizenship Act has nothing to do with Indian citizens and asserted the legislation does not discriminate against people on the basis of religion. Khan said the act fulfills the promise of Mahatma Gandhi and Jawaharlal Nehru and the Congress leaders of those times who had made promises to non-Muslims, who were left behind in Pakistan after Partition.
"This Act is an assurance which was given by Mahatma Gandhi, Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru and the Congress party. They had said this in 1947 that minorities in Pakistan did not demand partition. After partition, they became second-class citizens there. Pandit Nehru and Gandhi could not promise citizenship to those who went to Pakistan which was formed on religious lines, but they did make a promise to those who were in minority in Pakistan", said the Kerala Governor.
"Mahatma Gandhi on July 7, 1947, said that Hindus and Sikhs living in Pakistan have a right to come here if they do not want to live there. The government of India is bound to provide them employment, citizenship and comfortable life," Khan said.
Khan said Nehru had also spoken about India's commitment to take care of those who had parted during partition but were keen to come to India. "Nehru said so because there was an objective. These people never demanded partition, they were the victims of partition," he added.
"All our national leaders, including former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh in 2009, had promised this (to give citizenship). This Act has nothing to do with Indian citizens... There is no religious discrimination in our citizenship law," he stressed.
The Kerala Governor further stated reference of Rajasthan Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot's letter to Congress leader P Chidambaram where the Chief Minister narrated the plight of Hindus and Sikhs, who had fled from Pakistan and took refuge in India. Gehlot had demanded citizenship for them. Targeting the opposition on the issue of NRC, Khan said that these protests are not against CAA or NRC. "There are some hidden reasons behind these protests and I can't tell those."
Khan also gave the reasons for including Afghanistan in three countries from which India has decided to accept non-Muslim refugees. Khan said that the target is not Hamid Karzai (Former President of Afghanistan) or Asraf Ghani (President of Afghanistan) but the Taliban government installed in the nation by Pakistan. "We never said Hamid and Ghani government's persecuted non-Hindus. But there was a government of the Taliban that was installed by Pakistan. Women and minorities were persecuted because Pakistan did atrocities on them," stated the Kerala governor.
On queries why Ahmediyas, who are also persecuted in Pakistan, have been left out of CAA, Khan said, " Ahmediyas are a persecuted community. They are living in Pakistan and are brave but every European country, especially Britain, is open to take them in. Their headquarters is in England. We didn't make any promise to them. The law is for those whom we promised during partition." Khan said though India empathizes with those persecuted in other nations, it cannot give citizenship to everyone due to limited resources. "Then logically, we should give citizenship to Yemenis and Syrians too. But in today's context, we are short on resources. God willing, if we have enough resources, we will accommodate all," stated Khan.
(With ANI inputs)