University students across India, civil society and even ordinary citizens have hit the streets over the last two weeks, agitating against the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA). Seventeen have been reported dead, with several others detained and injured across India. State governments including those where BJP is in an alliance (like Bihar) have stated that they will not implement the National Registry of Citizens (NRC) in a bid to assure minorities in their states. This has forced officials of the government, and members of the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) to distance the CAA from the NRC. They have pointed out that the Act has nothing to do with the NRC and does not infringe upon the rights of the present citizens, especially Muslims.
The Press Information Bureau (PIB) of India released a set of frequently asked question on the CAA. This was released a day after ANI cited government sources and released the Q&A list on the CAA.
The BJP's YouTube channel also used a layman's method to reach out to the people, to clarify the various aspects of the Act - laying it out through regular conversation sans the jargon.
One commonality among these answers is the de-linking of the provision of the CAA and updating the NRC, an exercise that the government concluded on August 31 this year. Conducted in Assam, citizens had to prove that they or their ancestors were citizens of India before March 24,1971. Failure to be on the NRC could render one declared a foreigner. Once the process was concluded, 19 lakh people were unable to make it to the list, many of whom were Hindu.
Opponents of the CAA have pointed out that the government acted in haste post the Assam NRC, to ensure the granting of Indian citizenship to non-Muslim refugees in Assam and West Bengal with an eye on the upcoming elections. They also call it racist, an assault on the Constitution; something the government rejects and calls a humane law to protect the helpless.
Below is a snapshot from the PIB release that puts up a Chinese wall between both the CAA and the NRC.
Union Minister of Law and Broadcasting, Ravishankar Prasad too denied any linkages between the CAA and the NRC.
"NRC hasn't been finalised yet. There is no question of joining CAA with NRC as the draft is yet to be completed, @rsprasad said at #AgendaAajTak19.— India Today (@IndiaToday) December 17, 2019
Full Coverage: https://t.co/SzFPM7NDXohttps://t.co/MvOK4zldsG
However, Union Minister of Home Affairs, Amit Shah who spearheaded the passage of the CAA with his ministry being in charge of the NRC, has never shied away from linking the two and done so publicly on several occasions. During the course of the Lok Sabha election this year, and in Parliament, Shah and the BJP have openly linked the two. Shah also stated that India would see a countrywide NRC by 2024, while he campaigned in Jharkhand, where poll concluded on December 20. He also stated the same in Rajya Sabha in the latest winter session of Parliament.
Here are 5 instances where Shah has linked NRC and CAA together.
1. A press conference during the Lok Sabha elections
Earlier this year, on April 23, Shah said the following, "Aap chronology samajh lijijye. Pehle CAB [Citizenship Amendment Bill] aane jaa raha hai. CAB aane ke baad NRC aayega, aur NRC sirf Bengal ke liye nahi aayega, pure desh ke liye aayega."
(Understand the chronology. First the CAB will come, and after the CAB the NRC will come; not only for Bengal, but for the whole country).
His statements can be seen below.
2. A deleted tweet
On April 11, the handle of the BJP tweeted a statement by Shah, which can be seen below. The tweet was deleted recently, but was archived by BOOM before it was taken down by the party. It can be found here.
3. On the election trail in West Bengal
While campaigning in Birbhum, West Bengal on April 22, Shah said at a public rally:
"Sabse pehle hum CAB layenge, jiske tehet jitne bhi sharanarthi hai - Hindu, Sikh, Baudh, Jain, Christian - un sabko nagrikta dene ka kaam yeh Bharatiya Janta Party karegi. Pehli sharanarthiyo ko nagrikta denge, uske baad ghuspethiyon ko nikaal-bahaar karke Bengal ko 'Soonar Bangla' banane ka kaam ye Bharatiya Janta Party karegi."
This can be heard here.
First, we will bring Citizenship Amendment Bill and will give citizenship to the Hindu, Buddhist, Sikh, Jain and Christian refugees, the religious minorities from the neighbouring nations.— Amit Shah (@AmitShah) April 22, 2019
Then, we will implement NRC to flush out the infiltrators from our country. pic.twitter.com/w7yeDf5qcn
An archived version of the tweet can be found here.
4. An October interview to ABP news
On October 2, 2019, in an interview to ABP News, Shah said, "Trinamool Congress khauf failane ka kaam kar rahi hai... akele NRC bolkar. NRC ki kalpana CAB ke saath judi hai."
(The Trinamool Congress is spreading fear by highlighting the NRC alone. The NRC's thought is linked with the CAB)
He later reiterates the sequence that was mentioned earlier above - first legitimise Hindu, Sikh, Jain, Buddhist and Christian refugees as Indian citizens, and later remove the 'infiltrators.'
This video can be viewed here.
5. Again on the campaign trail in West Bengal
While campaigning in Hooghly, West Bengal on May 1, Shah said,
"Hum CAB ke madhyam se aaye Hindu, Sikh, Baudh, Jain, Isaye sharanarthiyo ko nagrikta denge, aur uske bad NRC ko amal mein laane wale hai."
This can be seen here.
First we will pass the Citizenship Amendment bill and ensure that all the refugees from the neighbouring nations get the Indian citizenship. After that NRC will be made and we will detect and deport every infiltrator from our motherland. pic.twitter.com/oB2SlBaQ0j— Amit Shah (@AmitShah) May 1, 2019
An archived version of this tweet can be found here.