As the unrest over the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) and National Register of Citizens (NRC) continues to boil, the official handle of Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) deleted one of its most controversial tweets on Thursday, 19 December.
During the Lok Sabha elections, in one of his campaigns in the first week of April, Home Minister Amit Shah had caused controversy when he said that his party would ensure the implementation of NRC in the entire country.
The operative part was the addition, “We will remove every single infiltrator from the country, except Buddhists, Hindus and Sikhs” – a clear exclusion of Muslims.
This was tweeted out by the party at the time, but late on Thursday as nationwide protests picked up, the official handle deleted it.
‘What’s Done Is Done’ Say Twitter Users
Shortly after, TMC leader Derek O'Brien took a dig at the government and said “The BJP IT cell can delete the tweet. But they can't delete what the home minister told the Parliament — 'we will roll out the NRC in all States.'”
Many other Twitter users stated, “What’s done is done,” while others pointed out that the BJP’s Bengal page still had the tweet up.
Shah & His NRC Claims
Since April, Shah has reiterated the government’s plan to execute a nationwide NRC, several times. The protests gripping several states are over twin fears of the CAA and the CAA in conjunction with the NRC potentially being used to disenfranchise large swathes of people, particularly Muslims.
In October, Shah at a seminar in Kolkata's Netaji Indoor Stadium stated “Hindu, Sikh, Buddhist, Jain, Christian refugees will be given citizenship under the Citizenship Amendment Bill, but infiltrators will be thrown out.”
Shah’s address came at a time when eleven people reportedly killed themselves in the state due to ‘panic around the NRC’.
Then again, on 22 November, at a seminar in Kolkata, he said that NRC is “a must” for national security, making it clear that Hindu, Sikh, Jain and Buddhist refugees will be accorded Indian citizenship beforehand with the passage of the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill, which is now an Act.
In the Winter Session from 18 November-13 December, Shah reiterated the same several times during discussions.
On 2 December at a rally in Jharkhand, Shah set deadline for the implementation of NRC – before 2024 polls.
Over the past week, there have been massive protests and marches all across the country, questioning and condemning the NRC and CAA.
The CAA aims to make illegal Hindu, Sikh, Buddhist, Jain, Christian and Parsi migrants in India from Afghanistan, Bangladesh and Pakistan eligible for citizenship – pointedly excluding Muslims. It offers citizenship to these six identified non-Muslim minorities who had reportedly fled from India's neighboring countries due to 'religious persecution.'
On the other hand, the NRC, which is pegged to be used in conjunction with CAA, is an official record of those who are legal Indian citizens. It includes demographic information about all those individuals who qualify as citizens of India as per the Citizenship Act, 1955.
It gained prominence with its implementation in Assam where the registry fuelled panic in the nation as 19 lakh people were left off the new citizens' list, many of these being Bengali Hindus as well.
(With inputs from PTI)