Defence Minister Rajnath Singh on Wednesday said that no one can dare touch any Indian Muslim, as he sought to dispel apprehensions that the community will be targeted if NPR and NRC are bought in, and cautioned the people against forces which were trying to "create a divide" on religious lines over the CAA.
Addressing a rally in support of the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) in Shatabdi Nagar here, the BJP leader said religious minorities in Pakistan, Afghanistan and Bangladesh were living a "life of misery" and India has fulfilled its "moral duty" by enacting the CAA.
He also questioned those opposing the National Population Register (NPR) and the National Register of Citizens (NRC), stressing that they were mooted much before the BJP government was formed, and rejected claims that Muslims will be "banished" under these exercises.
"There has been no discussion on NRC. But, suppose a country wants to create a national register of citizens, why should there be an objection to it. Shouldn't there be a document for people to seek benefits of government schemes," he asked the crowd.
"... But they say you are making NPR register and then you will bring NRC and banish all Muslims. I want to tell Muslims present here that nobody can dare touch any Muslim who is an Indian citizen. I want to assure you. If anyone has any complaint they can come to us... we will stand with that Muslim citizen," the minister said.
Singh said India was partitioned on the basis of religion and even Mahatma Gandhi wanted that Indian government should be sensitive towards minorities of neighbouring countries if they face religious persecution there. He had said such people should be given citizenship.
"We have done what Gandhiji had said (by bringing CAA). Did we commit a crime?"
"There are certain forces who want to create a divide between Hindus and Muslims on the issue of CAA. These forces have vested interests in creating a rift between the communities. I appeal to everyone that communal tension should not be created," he said.
He also cited former prime minister Manmohan Singh's remarks made in Rajya Sabha in favour of granting citizenship to minorities from neighbouring countries.
He said that citizenship law is being viewed from a Hindu-Muslim perspective, but Prime Minister Narendra Modi speaks of justice and humanity.
"They are trying to defame our party as if we are discriminating on the basis of religion. Only the people can given a befitting response to them and you are doing it."
Singh said the NDA had prepared the citizenship legislation in its first tenure, but it could not be enacted.
"We had promised to give citizenship to minorities facing religious persecution in Pakistan, Bangladesh and Afghanistan and PM Modi has fulfilled that commitment," he said.
He said the BJP "never divides the people of the country for political gains" and wants to do politics by winning people's hearts and fulfilling all its promises.
"I was given the responsibility to prepare the BJP's manifesto for the 2019 (Lok Sabha) elections. Within seven months of being elected, the BJP has been rapidly fulfilling its promises," he said.
"I want to assure the people of India that our party will deliver on whatever it promises. We do not want to cheat the people," he said.
Earlier speaking at the NCC Republic Day Camp in Delhi, Singh said Indian values consider all religions equal and that is why the country is secular and never became a theocratic state like Pakistan.
"We (India) said we would not discriminate among religions. Why did we do that? Our neighbouring country has declared that their state has a religion. They have declared themselves a theocratic state. We didn't declare so."
"Even America is a theocratic country. India is not a theocratic country. Why? Because our saints and seers did not just consider the people living within our borders as part of the family, but called everyone living in the world as one family," the minister said.
The CAA allows easier citizenship for Hindus, Sikhs, Buddhists, Christians, Parsis and Jains who came to India from Pakistan, Afghanistan and Bangladesh before 2015 to escape religious persecution there.
Muslim migrants don't figure in this list.
Those opposing the CAA contend that it discriminates on the basis of religion and violates the Constitution. They also allege that the CAA along with the NRC is intended to target the Muslim community in India.
However, the central government has dismissed the allegations, maintaining that the law is intended to give citizenship to the persecuted minorities from the three neighbouring countries and not to take away anyone's citizenship.
(This story has not been edited by Business Standard staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)