By Nishant Ketu
New Delhi [India], May 29 (ANI): Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) MP Meenakshi Lekhi on Saturday slammed the Opposition for criticising the move to initiate granting of citizenship of non-Muslim refugees in India from Afghanistan, Pakistan, and Bangladesh.
The Ministry of Home Affairs on Friday invited applications from the immigrants belonging to minority communities from Afghanistan, Pakistan, and Bangladesh, residing in 13 districts of Gujarat, Rajasthan, Chhattisgarh, Haryana and Punjab to apply for Indian citizenship.
Welcoming the Central government's step, the Lok Sabha MP from New Delhi said these refugees are a part of our country as they belong to countries that were once a part of India.
"The noise that was being made earlier against this law was baseless and it is against human rights as these refugees have lived in countries around India, which were once a part of India," Lekhi told ANI.
The BJP MP further said, "There have been some conspiracies against the people belonging to the minority communities living in these countries. They had no way to go anywhere in the world. They have only this one motherland and every refugee has been given shelter here."
"Those people, who have lived here for 40 years, should have been given civil rights under human rights, but that had not happened until today. By changing the law, they were given citizenship right in 2019. However, the process could not be completed due to the onset of the Covid pandemic. The elections made it clear that these people should be granted citizenship," she added.
Lekhi claimed that the decision has been welcomed by the people.
"The public has also welcomed it. Now the government has given instructions as per rules and it will be done while respecting human rights and keeping in mind the interests of the public," she said.
Criticising the Opposition, Lekhi justified the non-inclusion of the Muslim community, stating that they had already created a country for themselves.
"Apart from these refugees, whoever wants to take citizenship of our country, there are rules for them to take citizenship. They have to apply under the Citizenship Act. A little change was made in the act for people who have been living here for years without citizenship and were given a little help. The reason behind the non-Muslim quota is also that the Muslims had created a country for themselves. Now, if they needed the citizenship of this country then why was that country formed?" the BJP MP said.
She further stressed that there is a need to understand the difference between refugees and intruders. "The refugee will get a place to live, the intruder will not," Lekhi said.
People belonging to six minority communities of Pakistan, Afghanistan, and Bangladesh, which include Hindus, Buddhists, Jains, Parsis, Christians, and Sikhs, who have lived as refugees in various states of India for years will be permitted to apply for Indian citizenship. The Citizenship Amendment Act was approved by Parliament on December 11, 2019, to grant citizenship to these people.
The Union Home Ministry has also delegated powers to grant Indian citizenship to the immigrants to the home secretaries of Punjab and Haryana, besides collectors of districts spread across Gujarat, Chhattisgarh, Rajasthan, Haryana and Punjab. (ANI)