Union Minister Ramdas Athawale asked filmmaker Naseeruddin Shah to "study" the Citizenship Amendment Act and understand that it doesn't harm the interests of Indian Muslims. Athawale was responding to Naseeruddin Shah joining hands with 300 artists, including filmmakers such as Ratna Pathak Shah, Jaaved Jafferi, Nandita Das, Mira Nair, among others to sign an open letter standing in solidarity with the students who have been protesting incessantly against the CAA and National Register of Citizens (NRC).
"Naseeruddin Shah is a good artist and everyone enjoys his films. But I think he needs to study about this Act and understand it better. There is nothing in it that will harm Indian Muslims nor their citizenship. The law is meant to provide citizenship to minorities in Pakistan, Afghanistan and Bangladesh. Hence he should support the government," Ramdas Athawale said.
Saluting the student's collective cry for upholding the principles of the Constitution of India, the letter stated, "The policies and actions of the present government, passed quickly through Parliament and without opportunity for public dissent or open discussion, are antithetical to the principle of a secular, inclusive nation. The soul of the nation is threatened.''
Claiming to be aware that a few of them have remained 'silent' in the 'face of injustice', the open letter stated that, "The gravity of this moment demands that each of us stand for our principles.”
Further pinpointing the loophole in the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA), the one-page document stated that the ones who have been deemed 'illegal' through NRC may be eligible for citizenship under the CAA unless they are Muslim. Questioning the objective of the government, the letter asks why the minorities from neighbouring areas such as Sri Lanka, China and Myanmar have been excluded.
"Several citizens have been killed while protesting. Many more have been placed in preventive detention. Section 144 has been imposed in numerous states to curb protests. We need to look no further than Kashmir to see how far this government is willing to go to suppress democratic dissent. Kashmir is now living under the longest Internet shutdown ever imposed by a democratic government. Enough is enough. Those of us who have been quiet in the past, our silence ends now. We will be clear-sighted in our dissent. Like our freedom fighters before us, we stand for a secular and inclusive vision of India. We stand with those who bravely oppose anti-Muslim and divisive policies. We stand with those who stand up for democracy. We will be with you on our streets and across all our platforms. We are in solidarity.”