Visual from the Parliament’s Central Hall on Friday. Photo/ANI

President Ram Nath Kovind’s address to the joint sitting of Parliament on Friday was briefly interrupted by the Opposition members when he began speaking about the amended Citizenship Act (CAA). 

 

“In the times after the Partition, Mahatma Gandhi had said that the Hindus and Sikhs who did not want to live in Pakistan can come here. He had said that providing them with normal life was India’s duty…I am pleased that both the Houses of the Parliament fulfilled Mahatma Gandhi’s wish by formulating the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA),” Kovind said.

 

This was followed by applause and thumping of benches from members of the ruling coalition, however, the Opposition members started raising slogans against CAA.

 

President Kovind, however, continued his speech and added, “We all are aware that the atrocities on minorities have increased with time in Pakistan. We have all seen what happened in Nankana Sahib. It is our responsibility that the world comes to know about the atrocities in Pakistan. I condemn the attacks on minorities in Pakistan and urge the world community to take cognizance of this and take adequate steps.”

 

He further clarified that the doors for granting Indian citizenship to people of all faiths were open and the government has made provisions to ensure there is no negative impact of these on the people of the country.

 

“My government made it clear that the procedure for all those who are devoted to India and want to take Indian citizenship, irrespective of their faith, is the same as before. A person of any faith, by following these procedures, can become an Indian citizen. The government has also made provisions to ensure that while giving citizenship there is no undue burden or cultural effect on any region, especially the North-east,” President Kovind said

 

The CAA fast-tracks the process of granting citizenship to Hindus, Sikhs, Buddhists, Jains, Parsis and Christians who fled religious persecution in Afghanistan, Bangladesh and Pakistan and took refuge in India on or before December 31, 2014. Members of the Opposition have deemed it “discriminatory and anti-Constitution” while the Centre has maintained that the new law has no effect on Indian citizens.

 

The Union Budget will be presented on Saturday. The first phase of the session will conclude on February 11, while the second part of the session will begin from March 2 and end on April 3. (ANI)

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