At JNU, Chidambaram pitches for mass movement if Muslims are sent to detention camps

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New Delhi, Feb 13 (PTI) Senior Congress leader P Chidambaram on Thursday said there must be a 'huge mass movement' if any Muslim was sent to detention camps in case the Supreme Court upheld the validity of the Citizenship (Amendment) Act (CAA).

Speaking at the JNU campus here, the former Union minister said the CAA was an outcome of the 'NRC fiasco' in Assam that left 19 lakh people out of the document.

The CAA was brought to accommodate the 12 lakh Hindus among the 19 lakh people who could not be included in the National Register of Citizens (NRC) in Assam, he claimed.

Replying to a question by a student on the best course of action if the CAA was upheld by the apex court, Chidambaram said, 'When they touch the excluded...they will only be Muslims, try to identify and throw them out, declare them stateless, there must be a huge mass movement, resisting any Muslim being thrown out or kept in detention camps.' He also said the Congress believed that the CAA must be repealed and there should be a political struggle so that the National Population Register (NPR) was pushed beyond 2024.

Claiming that the NRC, CAA and NPR were 'closely connected' to each other, Chidambaram said, 'The CAA was brought due to the NRC fiasco in Assam and the opposition to the CAA gave way to the NPR.' He asserted that the Congress was protesting against the CAA and the NRC across the country, but had consciously avoided going to Shaheen Bagh, as in that case, the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) would brand the demonstration against the amended citizenship law as a 'political' one.

'See, we are not going to Shaheen Bagh because that would be falling into the BJP's trap. If we go there, they (BJP) will say it is political,' the senior Congress leader said.

Slamming the CAA and the NRC as instruments undermining the very basis of the formation of India, he said the country, instead, needed a 'broad law' on refugees.

Speaking at an event against the NRC, CAA and NPR hosted by the Congress's student wing, NSUI, at the Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU), Chidambaram accused the BJP of spreading lies against opposition parties.

'The BJP says the Congress, the Left and other liberal parties are against citizenship to persecuted Hindus, Sikhs from Pakistan, Bangladesh. But we are not against those included, our opposition is against exclusion,' he said.

Questioning the rationale behind the CAA, the former finance minister said it excluded people on the basis of religion.

'Why only three countries, what about other neighbouring countries -- Nepal, Bhutan, China? What about others treated much worse? The Ahmadiyas and Shias of Pakistan, the Rohingyas of Myanmar, Tamil Hindus are equally persecuted, why are they left out?,' he questioned.

Chidambaram also said the CAA did not cover persecution based on language, political ideology and economic deprivation.

Slamming the NRC, he wondered which country would accept those left out of the document.

'Which country is going to accept them? How will they go? Where will you send them? (Home Minister) Amit Shah saying that they are termites and he will throw them out by 2024 is talking through his hat,' the senior Congress leader said. PTI VIT SLB RC