(Eds: Adds BJP minister's quotes) Panaji, Feb 9 (PTI) Archbishop of Goa and Daman, Rev Filipe Neri Ferrao, has urged the Central government to 'immediately and unconditionally' revoke the 'divisive and discriminatory' Citizenship Amendment Act and stop quashing the 'right to dissent', drawing criticism from the BJP.
He also appealed to the government not to implement the proposed countrywide National Register of Citizens (NRC) and the National Population Register (NPR).
However, Goa BJP's general secretary Narendra Sawaikar asked why the Archbishop was opposing CAA when 'crores of people including Goans' were supporting the new law.
Diocesan Centre for Social Communications Media, a wing of the Goa Church, in a statement on Saturday said, 'The Archbishop and the Catholic community of Goa would like to appeal to the government to listen to the voice of millions in India, to stop quashing the right to dissent and, above all, to immediately and unconditionally revoke the CAA and desist from implementing the NRC and the NPR.' The CAA, NRC and NPR are 'divisive and discriminatory' and will certainly have a 'negative and damaging effect' on a multi-cultural democracy like ours, the church said.
There is serious concern that NRC and NPR will result in 'direct victimisation of the underprivileged classes, particularly Dalits, adivasis, migrant labourers, nomadic communities and the countless undocumented people who, after having been recognised as worthy citizens and voters for more than 70 years, will suddenly run the risk of becoming stateless and candidates for detention camps,' it said.
There has been widespread discontent and open protests throughout the country and even abroad against the CAA, NRC and NPR, which are 'forecasting a systematic erosion of values, principles and rights' that have been guaranteed to all citizens in the Constitution, the release said.
Eminent citizens, including top intellectuals and legal luminaries, have taken a studied and unequivocal stand against the CAA, NRC and NPR, it noted.
Goa also witnessed several protests, which transcended the confines of religious and caste affiliation and brought people from all walks of life together on one united platform, said the statement.
It said Christians in India have always been a peace- loving community and deeply committed to the ideals of justice, liberty, equality and fraternity, enshrined in the Constitution.
'We have always taken great pride that our beloved country is a secular, sovereign, socialist, pluralistic and democratic republic,' the church said.
The very fact that CAA uses religion goes against the secular fabric of the country, it said.
'It goes against the spirit and heritage of our land which, since times immemorial, has been a welcoming home to all, founded on the belief that the whole world is one big family,' the church said.
'We pray for our beloved country, that good sense, justice and peace prevail in the hearts and minds of all,' it added.
However, BJP's state general secretary Narendra Sawaikar asked why the Archbishop was opposing CAA, when it was being supported by 'crores of people'.
'Archbishop says that #CAA should be withdrawn as it is being opposed. My question is Why? When Crores of people are supporting #CAA, including Goans,' Sawaikar, the former Lok Sabha member from South Goa, tweeted.
BJP MLA and state Transport Minister Mauvin Godinho said the Church should not be making comments that will bring about opposition on a 'communal basis'.
'I have one thing very clear. No religion has a right to interfere in the governance of any state or any country or comment which will bring about an opposition on communal basis. They should not even be indirectly seen as inciting some sort of communal pressure. They should not have been seen as doing that, that is what is wrong,' Godinho said.
'The intention behind that may be good. (But his statement) is totally wrong as I see it. What is wrong is wrong. A spade is a spade,' he added.
The Goa Assembly had passed a motion congratulating Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Union Home Minister Amit Shah for enacting CAA. PTI RPS GK BNM NSK NSK NSK