CAA is a result of the Assam fiasco: Chidambaram

Former Finance Minister P. Chidambaram addressing students in JNU on Thursday.

Former Finance Minister P. Chidambaram addressing students in JNU on Thursday.   | Photo Credit: Shiv Kumar Pushpakar

Former Finance Minister says a ‘broad humane law on refugees’ required

The Citizenship (Amendment) Act is a “direct result of the Assam fiasco”, said former Finance Minister P. Chidambaram on Thursday while addressing a group of students at Jawaharlal Nehru University.

“Today we have a triple assault on India’s sense of citizenship. That is why we say that all three must be opposed,” he said.

Elucidating on how the CAA, National Register of Citizens (NRC) and National Population Register (NPR) are interlinked, in contrary to what the BJP government had said, Mr. Chidambaram said the CAA was brought about after over 19 lakh people were excluded in the NRC, which took place in Assam.

“The initial identification exercise showed some 40 lakh people. Then after a review, it showed 19 lakh people which is also a humungous number. What made it difficult for them is that broadly 12 lakh were Hindus and 7 lakh Muslims. So what does the poor Hindutva-driven government do? Therefore they thought about the CAA. The only way to get out of the Assam fiasco was to make a law by which the Hindus will be allowed to stay and Muslims allowed or forced to go,” he said.

While asking as to where the people excluded “were supposed to go”, Mr. Chidambaram said instead a “broad humane law on refugees” was required. Stating that the BJP was “distorting” the Opposition’s reservations against the CAA, the Rajya Sabha MP said: “We are not against those being included. We are opposed to the exclusion of equally placed categories. These are all people who are being persecuted so include all of them. We are arguing for a larger law.” “Do we have only three neighbours? What about Sri Lanka, Bhutan, Myanmar, Nepal? When you only choose three you deliberately exclude the rest. Why should it be based on ‘religious’ persecution only when there are linguistic, political and racial persecutions as well? What about the other people who are treated worse than the minorities?” he asked.

Stating that opposition to CAA gave rise to the NPR, he said: “They say it’s a benign idea to count people. But the census is there. But you will see the mischief when you see the draft questions. It asks where your parents were born. Why do you want to know that? The idea is to somehow take you back and somehow connect you to Bangladesh or Pakistan. Many people don’t even have documents. In a country with status deprivation, poverty, natural calamities and internal movement how can you ask for evidence about where his parents or grandparents were born?”

On detention centres

Questioning the construction of detention centres, Mr. Chidambaram said, “Detention centres are an outrage against decency and humanity.” While stating that the Congress party refrained from going to Shaheen Bagh to “avoid falling into the BJP’s trap” of politicizing the protest, he said, “From Shaheen Bagh to Park Circus in Kolkata to a village in TN and millions who gathered in Hyderabad, we are confident that we can defeat the NPR politically and CAA legally.”

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Printable version | Feb 22, 2020 2:06:36 PM |

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