New Delhi: Kerala Governor Arif Mohammad Khan on Saturday said that there was nothing wrong with the proposed National Register of Citizens (NRC) and there were “hidden reasons” behind the protests taking place across the country.
Speaking at a lecture organised at the Nehru Memorial Museum and Library in the capital, Khan said: “Many countries do have NRC. So what is wrong about it?” he asked. On the fear or apprehension about NRC among a cross section of the society, he said it was conceptualized many years ago, but nobody protested against it so far.
“If they were so upset with it, they should have protested in 1989, in 2003 and 2009, when it was extended to the whole country. This (the protest) is not about NRC. The opposition to it stems from ‘extraneous considerations’. There are ‘hidden reasons’ behind the protests,” he said.
On the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) passed by Parliament, he said it has fulfilled the commitments made by India to the minorities in Pakistan at the time Partition in 1947. “Our national leaders like Mahatma Gandhi, Jawaharlal Nehru, and the ruling party at that time, the Congress, had a commitment that those from the minority communities, especially Hindus and Sikhs, would be rehabilitated in India, if they wished so. Somehow that commitment could not be fulfilled in the last 70 years, which has now been done with the enactment of the Citizenship Amendment Bill (CAB),” Khan said.
Khan also said that there is a “national consensus” on the issue as even the previous Congress-led government had favoured giving citizenship to the minorities who have been facing religious persecution in neighbouring countries like Pakistan, Bangladesh and Afghanistan.
He read out the statements of senior Congress leaders like Gandhi, Nehru, Manmohan Singh, Rajendra Prasad, Pranab Mukerjee, Ashok Gehlot to drive home his point. He quoted Mahatma Gandhi saying “they (the minorities from Pakistan) have the right to come to India”. He also quoted a resolution of the All India Congress Committee (AICC) soon after India’s Independence which said the “Congress was duty bound” to provide shelter to people from Pakistan’s minority community.
Khan, who has held important portfolios in the Union Cabinet in the past, said though the Pakistan government assured safety and security to the people of minority community, it miserably failed in fulfilling its promise. He cited the example of Jogendra Nath Mandal, who was a Central Minister in the Pakistan government, but had to flee to India due to religious persecution. Similar was the case with journalists Kuldeep Nair and R.S. Sharma, who were victims of the system there and had to come to India.
“India had already promised the people of the minority community of Pakistan that they would be given shelter in India if they wished so. The CAA has just given the legal shape to the promise which was made earlier,” he said. On the issue of incorporating Afghanistan minorities in the CAA, Khan said religious persecution happened during the Taliban regime, which was controlled by Pakistan. However, he said, no such thing was happening under the present regime.