President hails CAA in joint address in Parliament

Our Bureau New Delhi | Updated on January 31, 2020

Says people of any faith can follow existing processes to become Indian citizens

Amid countrywide protests against the CAA, President Ram Nath Kovind on Friday hailed the Citizenship (Amendment) Act. This invited long thumping from the Treasury Bench, while many Opposition members protested vociferously.

“It is our responsibility to honour this wish of the founding fathers of our nation. I am happy that both the Houses of Parliament have fulfilled this wish by enacting the Citizenship Amendment Act,” Kovind said in a nearly hour-long address to the joint sitting of Parliament.

Duty of the government’

Quoting Mahatma Gandhi, he said that Hindus and Sikhs of Pakistan who do not wish to live there can come to India. “It is the duty of the Government of India to ensure a normal life for them,” he said. “Many national leaders and political parties have from time to time supported this idea of Pujya Bapu and further propagated it.”

As the nation celebrates Gandhiji’s 150th birth anniversary, “all of you have given paramount consideration to this sentiment”, he added.

He reiterated that the citizenship procedures which have existed for people from all faiths of the world who believe in India, and who wish to obtain Indian citizenship, remain unchanged. A person of any faith can follow these processes and become an Indian citizen, he said. The government has made several provisions to ensure that granting citizenship to those who have been compelled to take shelter in India does not have any adverse cultural impact on any region, especially the North-East, he added.

Need for debates

Without mentioning ongoing protests against NRC-CAA, the President said debate and discussion on any issue strengthens democracy. “My government is of the firm view that mutual discussions and debates strengthen democracy. At the same time, any kind of violence in the name of protests weakens the society and the nation,” he added.

There has been an increase in atrocities against minorities in Pakistan, said Kovind. He referred to a recent incident at Nankana Sahib in Pakistan, where a gurdwara was recently vandalised. “It is the responsibility of all of us to bring the atrocities being committed in Pakistan to the notice of the global community. While condemning the atrocities on minorities in Pakistan, I urge the world community to take cognizance of it and take necessary steps in this regard,” he said.

Passage of legislation

The President expressed happiness over the functioning of Parliament over the past seven months. He complimented both the Houses for the passage of many important Bills such as the Triple Talaq Bill, ensuring justice to Muslim women and safeguarding their rights; the Consumer Protection Act, providing new rights to citizens; the Banning of Unregulated Deposit Schemes Act, for protecting the savings of the poor; the Chit Funds Amendment Act, protecting the poor from fraudulent chit fund schemes; amendments to the POSCO Act, enhancing punishment for sexual offences against children; the Motor Vehicles Amendment Act, aimed at reducing road accidents; and the Transgender Persons (Protection of Rights) Act, protecting the rights of transgenders.

Lawmakers should remember thatthey are citizens of the country first, and leaders or supporters of particular ideologies thereafter. “The prestige of our country should be more important than our party loyalties,” he said, urging everybody to draw inspiration from the glorious past of country to ensure its bright future.

Published on January 31, 2020

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