Ruling out a rethink on the controversial Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) and scrapping Jammu and Kashmir’s special status, Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Sunday said that his government will remain firm on the steps despite pressure from all sides.
“Be it the scrapping of Article 370 from Jammu and Kashmir or the Citizenship Amendment Act, the country waited for decisions on these for years,” he told a public meeting in Varanasi during a day-long visit to his Lok Sabha constituency.
“These decisions were necessary in the interest of the nation. Duniya bhar ke saarey dabaon ke bawjood, inn faislon par hum qayam hain, qayam rahengey (Despite pressure from all sides, we remain firm on the decisions and will continue to remain firm,” PM Modi said.
Provisions of Article 370 of the constitution, which gave special powers to the erstwhile state of Jammu and Kashmir, were scrapped by the government in August last year. The government enforced a severe lockdown on the erstwhile state and many of the restrictions continue to this day including the detention of three former Chief Ministers under a tough law.
The Prime Minister’s statement comes amid continued protests against the CAA in various parts of the country.
The law, which promises citizenship to only non-Muslim refugees from Pakistan, Afghanistan and Bangladesh who came to India before 2015, has been criticised for making religion a test of Indian nationality for the first time in violation of the country’s secular constitution.
While critics of the law say it can be used along with the planned National Register of Citizens (NRC) to target Muslims, the government says it only intends to help people from neighbouring countries who have faced religious persecution in the past.