Maharashtra Navnirman Sena (MNS) chief Raj Thackeray on Sunday clarified his stance on the contentious citizenship law (CAA) and the proposed National Register of Citizens (NRC) by the BJP-led government. Addressing a large crowd, the MNS chief asserted that the issue of 'infiltrators' is as significant as that of unemployment, education, drinking water. Questioning if India was a dharmashala (rest-house), Raj Thackeray backed the need to introduce NRC in the country. In addition, exuding his support for CAA, said that the 'persecuted Hindu minorities be brought to Hindustan'. However, the amended citizenship law nowhere mentions the term 'persecuted'.
He said, "When minorities in Bangladesh, Pakistan and Afghanistan are persecuted because of religion, shouldn't we take them in Hindustan? The minorities there are Hindus. They say, even bring the Muslims. How do we get them? I had said, we have a population of 156 crore people, we still can't disciple that. What is wrong with CAA? Now the issue is NRC. Do they think my country is a dharamshala? They are coming from anywhere, living anywhere. I know we have issues of water, education, unemployment but the issue of infiltrators is equally important."
Last week, Centre notified that non-Muslim refugees from Pakistan, Bangladesh and Afghanistan will have to provide proof of their religious beliefs before applying for citizenship in India. As per CAA, non-Muslim minorities of the three neighbouring countries can apply for Indian citizenship who have come to the country before December 31, 2014.
MNS workers on Sunday organised a rally at Azad Maidan in Mumbai demanding the ouster of illegal Bangladeshi and Pakistani immigrants from the State. In the afternoon, scores of workers of Raj Thackeray's party were seen raising slogans in favour of NRC. Some of them also played musical instruments to send out their message. According to a press note issued by the Maharashtra police on Saturday, an additional 600 police personnel have been deployed for the rally apart from the routine deployment of Rapid Action Force (RAF) and Riot Control Police. Drones and CCTV cameras will also be deployed by the police to keep a watch on the gathering.
The MNS chief had earlier said that the party will take out a huge rally on February 9 in Mumbai seeking to drive "infiltrators" from Pakistan and Bangladesh out of India. "We will take out a huge rally on February 9 to drive infiltrators from Pakistan and Bangladesh out of India. There can be a debate on the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) but why should we shelter someone who has come from outside illegally?" he had said.