Kolkata: Senior Bharatiya Janata Party leader Subramanian Swamy on Sunday claimed that the incidents of arson and violence during anti-Citizenship (Amendment) Act protests were engineered by 'terrorist' elements from Pakistan and Bangladesh who want to destabilise India.
Swamy asserted that the Act has nothing to do with one's religious beliefs and bonafide Indian citizens including Muslims need not worry.
Branding those involved in acts of violence during anti-CAA protests as 'deshdrohis', Swamy said "There is a need to catch these people, they have gone against the long established tradition of India for peaceful, non-violent form of protest.... We have started the process of prosecuting those involved in such violence."
Taking part in a discussion, "Secularism under threat", here, the former Union minister said previous governments used to cover up incidents of destruction of public property by agitators, while the BJP government is making the arsonists pay from their pockets for the losses.
On the CAA, Swamy said, "We haven't said anything against Muslims. We have only said those who have been persecuted for religious reasons, who had been hanging (sic) in this country for decades without citizenship, those who have not got cards and jobs.... This state of affairs must end."
No Muslims from Afghanistan, Pakistan and Bangladesh had faced persecution, he said adding that none can take the citizenship of an Indian Muslim.
"The only way you can take away someone's citizenship is if you have voluntarily acquired citizenship of another country.... Why not Sonia Gandhi and Rahul Gandhi will lose their (Indian) citizenship?" he wondered.
"Some crazy people abroad and some equally crazy people in India" are claiming that the CAA has something to do with religion," Swamy said.
In India, "We have been always of the view that we have a spiritual country and we cannot leave out religion and spirituality completely", the BJP leader said.
Allaying the fear of those who had migrated from Bangladesh, Swamy said, "Any Bengali who has been persecuted for religious reasons in Bangladesh, will be welcome in our country. But it must be for religious reasons."
Asked about the alleged harassment of civil liberty activists such as Arundhati Roy during anti-CAA protests, Swamy said the Constitution guarantees fundamental rights with certain restrictions - if involves issues like sovereignty and integrity of the country and protecting anyone from being defamed.
"We are going through due process of prosecution. There are many more prosecutions ahead," he said.
Swamy said the most significant step taken so far by the BJP government at the Centre is the abolition of triple talaq and the next big move should be a 'uniform civil code' and "the nation is ready for it".
Going back to the partition days of 1947, Swamy said, "Our country was partitioned so that they (those who left) can live happily there (in the neighbouring country). We did not push them out. But having gone there, you (illegal immigrants) again want to come back. I am saying if you come back bring a portion of land also."
He said India should not be treated as a "dharamsala where anyone can come, sit with a chatai (mat) and sleep."
Referring to the spat between historian Irfan Habib and Kerala Governor Arif Mohammed Khan during the Indian History Congress at Kannur a few days back, Swamy said "He (Habib) made some nasty cracks. Nasty cracks he made because he is a crackpot."
The BJP leader said Khan is his friend and spoke to him a few days ago. "I said you did the right thing by ignoring him."