By Rajnish Singh
New Delhi, Jan 3 (IANS) Against the backdrop of countrywide demonstrations, including some violent, over the Citizenship Amendment Act, the Central government on Friday chose the Press Information Bureau (PIB) to clarify the “Myths” being spread against the law that critics say discriminates against Muslims and threatens India’s secular ethos because it makes religion a criteria for citizenship.
Though Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Union Home Minister Amit Shah and other senior Ministers as well as the Union Ministry of Home Affairs have, on many occasions, clarified that the act has “nothing to do with Indian citizens”, rumours spread across the country have led various violent protests leading to deaths of at least 30 people.
Over 2,000 people have been arrested and around 5,000 detained by protesting against CAA since the Parliament passed the law on December 11. Hundreds of security personnel have also been injured in anti-CAA protests across India, the strongest dissent against Modi since he came into power in 2014.
To curb misinformation being spread against the CAA, the government has now chosen the PIB platform to circulate information on “Myths” and what is “Facts” related to the law that aims to grant citizenship to members of six communities — Hindus, Sikhs, Christians, Jains, Buddhists and Parsis — facing persecution in Bangladesh, Pakistan and Afghanistan and having sought refuge in India on or before December 31, 2014.
On opening the PIB website, a message flashes on its home page, headlined “DO NOT GET MISLED by the misinformation on the Citizenship Amendment Act”.
It goes on to say: “A lot of rumours and misinformation are being circulated, which are in no way true”.
To clarify the facts of the CAA, the message shows three “Myths” and counter it with three “Facts”.
The Three “Myths” read “CAA is targeted at taking away citizenship from Indian Muslims”, “CAA is against Indian Muslims”, and “Documents to prove citizenship need to be collected right now or else people will be deported”.
Countering first of the three “Myths”, the first “Fact” says: “CAA does not affect any existing Indian citizenship of any religion. It is about giving citizenship to persecuted minorities settled in India till 2014 and not taking away citizenship from anyone.”
Rejecting the second “Myth”, the second “Fact” says: “Wrong. CAA applies only to minorities from three countries – Pakistan, Bangladesh and Afghanistan. It does not concern any Indian of any religion, including Muslims. So, there is no question of it being against Indian Muslims.”
Countering the third “Myth”, the third “Fact” says it is “wrong.” “No nationwide NRC has been announced. If and when it is announced, rules and guidelines would be framed such that no Indian citizen would face any harassment whatsoever.”
The bottom line of the message, which automatically disappears within one minute after the PIB website is opened, says “No Indian citizen of any religion or any region will be adversely impacted by the Citizenship Amendment Act”.
(Rajnish Singh can be contacted at [email protected])