The overarching narrative fuelling the protests has been that the CAA, when coupled with the NRC and NPR, would disenfranchise Muslims and strip them of their citizenship.
The Congress party virtually did a volte-face on its opposition to the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) with its categorical remark on the floor of the Rajya Sabha that the recently amended citizenship law “is not anti-Muslim”. During a discussion on the Delhi riots in the Rajya Sabha on Thursday, senior Congress leader and former law minister Kapil Sibal said, “We never said CAA will take anybody’s citizenship.”
The remarks were made during Home minister Amit Shah’s reply during a debate on the Delhi violence in the Upper House. Reiterating the Bharatiya Janata Party’s stand that the Delhi riots were a part of a planned conspiracy, Shah said that hate speech by several leaders from the Opposition was responsible for stoking fear that eventually led to the violence in the capital.
Shah said that the Citizenship Amendment Act had no provision to take away anyone’s citizenship, but the Opposition leaders had indulged in a misinformation campaign to instill fear deep in the minds of minorities, particularly Muslims, that their citizenship will be snatched away. “Show me one clause in the CAA which says anyone’s citizenship will be taken away,” Shah said.
Sibal, who had earlier in the day criticised the Centre and questioned the Home minister over non-registration of FIRs against those who delivered hate speeches that “incited” communal violence in Delhi, stood up and said, “Home Minister, nobody is saying that CAA will snatch anyone’s citizenship. We are not saying so,” Sibal said, leading to an uproar from the government benches.
“I can quote innumerable speeches by leaders from Mr Sibal’s party who claim that CAA is against the interest of minorities,” Shah shot back.
अगर CAA किसी की नागरिकता नहीं छीन रहा और ये बात कांग्रेस को मालूम है तो सोनिया गांधी लोगों को घर से निकलने, सड़क पर उतरने और क़ुर्बानी देने के लिए क्यों उकसा रही हैं? pic.twitter.com/tqOLdZbuUz
— Amit Malviya (@amitmalviya) March 12, 2020
The passage of the CAA in both houses of Parliament on December 11 sparked protests across the country, leading to clashes — initially between agitators and police, and later the communal violence in Delhi. The overarching narrative fuelling the protests has been that the CAA, when coupled with the proposed National Register of Citizens and the revised National Population Register, would disenfranchise Muslims and strip them of their citizenship.
Replying to Shah in Rajya Sabha, Sibal said that it wasn’t the CAA, but the NPR with additional questions which were the problem. “When NPR will be undertaken, there will be 10 additional questions (as opposed to 2010 format). When the enumerator, a representative of the state government, will go an ask them… and then put a ‘D’ (doubtful) in front of their names… then an inquiry will begin.. And this is not just against Muslims, it is against the poor, Dalit and everyone,” Sibal said.
The comments by Sibal drew immediate clarification from the Home minister who said that no documents will be sought during the NPR exercise and no one would be marked as doubtful.