Geneva, February 29: The controversial Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) and the situation of Muslims in India was discussed in detail by both Indian and European Parliamentarians at a meet on the sidelines of the United Nations Human Rights Council in Geneva.
Veteran Journalist and Member of Parliament MJ Akbar mentioned that the most important characteristic of India is its plurality and the Constitution gives equal rights to everyone irrespective of religion and Muslims are as much part of India as any other citizen from any other religion.
Taking a dig at Congress leader Shashi Tharoor he said, ‘Sometimes when you are in opposition you tend to make rhetorical points and Tharoor is far away from reality.” Akbar quoted Mahatma Gandhi while concluding his speech, saying: “Hindus and Muslims are one. God created them and no one can separate them”.
Fulvio Martusciello, Member of European Parliament, clarified that with this act several rights including electoral and educational will be given to the innocent people who were facing religious persecution in their native country.
Umer Ahmed Ilyasi, the Chief Imam of All India Imam Organisation, who is also the first Indian Muslim to come in support of CAA, drew the attention of the Muslim community in India stating, “India has the second-largest number of Muslims in the world and provides equal citizenship for everyone, India is a secular democracy.”
He lashed out at Pakistan stating that it should not interfere with India’s internal matter and Muslims in India are safer than they can be anywhere else in the world. He explained that if any Muslim wants he or she can still apply for Indian citizenship provided the provisions of the Citizenship Act of 1955 are fulfilled.
Atika Farooqui a journalist covering minority issues in India stated that CAA has no provision whatsoever to take the citizenship of current citizens of India by any means. “We, Indians, are just curious and hardworking people with Muslim, Christian, Sikh and Hindu sounding names,” she added.
Paulo Casaca, Executive Director of South Asia Democratic Forum and Former Member of European Parliament focused on the role of Europe in this disinformation campaign stating that the institutions of EU are feeding the hatred and chaos. He warned the EU to change its attitude first towards the refugees at its borders before interfering in India. He added that the CAA provides a special fast track procedure to certain groups from certain neighbouring countries.
Brian Toll an expert on South Asia from European Commission summarised that the Indian Constitution provides equal opportunity to every citizen irrespective of their religion, creed or caste. India is the only country in the entire world who has accepted people from all cultures, religions etc with open arms and embraced their ethos in its plurality.
The CAA grants citizenship to Hindus, Sikhs, Jains, Parsis, Buddhists and Christians fleeing religious persecution from Pakistan, Afghanistan and Bangladesh and who came to India on or before December 31, 2014.
Protests have erupted in various parts of the country against the newly amended citizenship law and the proposed NRC. (Zee News)