‘Protest as you like but the Citizenship (Amendment) Act [CAA] will not be withdrawn’, Union Home Minister Amit Shah asserted here on Tuesday.
The debate on the CAA was a “fight” between those who wanted the good of the country and those who wanted to “break the country into pieces,” he said, using the phrase ‘Bharat ke tukde’ to target the CAA critics.
Mr. Shah, who was addressing a rally in support of the CAA, said: “Today I have come to Lucknow to say it aloud that whoever wants to protest, can protest, but the CAA won’t be taken back.”
His comment came as a sit-in by women at the Hussainabad Clock Tower hit the fifth day.
Mr. Shah said the Opposition parties were spreading misconceptions about the new law and instigating riots and arson. The Congress was opposed to the CAA and did not want to listen to the cries of the religious minorities in Bangladesh, Pakistan and Afghanistan as it was “blindfolded” by “vote-bank.”
Mr. Shah also hit out at Samajwadi Party president Akhilesh Yadav, who has been speaking out against the CAA and the proposed nationwide National Register of Citizens (NRC). He said, “Aur Akhilesh Babu, aap zyada na bolo toh accha hai. Kabhi kabhi padha karo, bhaiya. Padhne se faida hota hai. [And Akhilesh babu, it’s best you speak less. Try and read sometimes, brother. Reading is beneficial].” He dared Mr. Yadav to come on stage and speak on the CAA “for five minutes”.
Mr. Shah also asked Opposition leaders like Mayawati, Rahul Gandhi and Mamata Banerjee to pick any platform for an open debate on the CAA. He said crores of minorities in Pakistan, Bangladesh and Afghanistan were either killed, forced to convert, had their women “taken away” or chose to take refuge in India.
“Those people who talk of human rights like a fashion today and come out with armbands, I want to ask them, where were your human rights lost when crores of people were killed, converted or forced to take refuge,” he asked.
Mr. Shah said Opposition leaders who are “greedy for vote banks” should visit the camps of these people. “Those who owned 100 hectares of land are today surviving and begging in a small slum with their family. Who used to have palaces, today don’t have jobs, medicine or food.”