Chennai: Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman on Sunday defended the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) by citing example of Pakistan-born singer Adnan Sami, who was granted Indian citizenship in 2016.
The BJP leader, however, slipped up when she mentioned noted Bengali writer Taslima Nasreen as another example of Muslims from neighbouring having gotten citizenship in India.
Nasreen, who is officially a citizen of Sweden, has been living in New Delhi on a residence permit since 2004.
“A total of 391 Afghanistani Muslims and 1,595 Pakistani migrants were given citizenship from 2016 to 2018. It was during this period in 2016, that Adnan Sami was given citizenship, it's an example. Taslima Nasreen is another example. This proves all allegations against us are wrong,” Sitharaman said at an event on CAA in Chennai.
Nasreen had to leave Bangladesh in 1994 in the wake of death threat by fundamentalist outfits for her alleged anti-Islamic views. Since then she has been living in exile.
Sami, who originally hailed from Pakistan, was given citizenship under Section 6 (I) of the Indian Citizenship Act, 1955 under the category “citizenship by naturalisation”, after he approached the Home Ministry with the request to legalise his stay in India on humanitarian grounds.
Sitharaman said as many as 2,838 Pakistanis, 914 Afghans and 172 Bangladeshis given Indian citizenship in the last six years. “In last six years, 2,838 Pakistani refugees, 914 Afganistanis and 172 Bangladeshi refugees were given Indian citizenship, which includes Muslims as well. From 1964 to 2008, over four lakh Sri Lankan Tamils were given citizenship and 566 Muslims from Pakistan, Bangladesh and Afghanistan were given citizenship till 2014.”
She dubbed the proposal of some states to no implement the Citizenship Amendment Act as 'unconstitutional' and said it was the responsibility of all states to ensure that the law passed in Parliament is executed.
"A state assembly has passed a resolution against CAA. It is like making a political statement. We can understand that. But saying they will not implement it, then it is against the law. It is unconstitutional to say that,” she said.
The minister added that people who came from East Pakistan have been settled at various camps in the country.
Terming the CAA as "very good" and "generous", Nasreen recently said that the law should make an exception for Muslim "free-thinkers, feminists, and secularists" from the neighbouring countries.
"It is nice to hear the religious persecuted minorities from Bangladesh, Pakistan and Afghanistan will get citizenship (of India). It is a very good idea and very generous one,” she said. "But I think that there are people like me from the Muslim community, free thinkers and atheists, who too are persecuted in Pakistan, Bangladesh and Afghanistan and they too should have the right to live in India," she added.