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21 Feb, 2020 05:03

‘Big lapse by our ancestors’: Indian minister says Muslims should have been ‘sent to Pakistan’ & Hindus repatriated in 1947

‘Big lapse by our ancestors’: Indian minister says Muslims should have been ‘sent to Pakistan’ & Hindus repatriated in 1947

An Indian minister known for fiery and inflammatory rhetoric has declared that India’s Muslims should have been shipped to Pakistan at the time of partition in 1947, arguing the move would have saved the country a lot of trouble.

The controversial comment came from Giriraj Singh, minister of Animal Husbandry, Dairy and Fisheries, during a recent address in Purnia. He suggested that widespread unrest over two contentious laws – the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) and a proposed National Register of Citizens (NRC) – could have been avoided had Indian Muslims been deported to Pakistan when the country was divided from present-day India.

“It is the time to commit ourselves to the nation. Before 1947, [Muhammad Ali] Jinnah pushed for an Islamic nation. It was a big lapse by our ancestors that we're paying the price for,” Singh said.

If at that time Muslim brothers had been sent there and Hindus brought here, we wouldn’t be in this situation. If [Indians persecuted abroad] don’t get shelter here where will they go?

No stranger to blustery speeches, Singh was recently summoned by the ruling BJP’s national president, Jagat Prakash Nadda, after he labelled an Islamic seminary in Uttar Pradesh a “fountainhead of terrorism,” though the rebuke apparently did not deter the minister.

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Passed late last year, the CAA paved a path to Indian citizenship for religious minorities facing persecution in Pakistan, Afghanistan and Bangladesh, however because all three nations are Muslim-majority, the bill does not apply to that faith group. Critics have deemed the law discriminatory and contrary to India’s secular values, with thousands joining nationwide protests to oppose it. The government, for its part, argues the law is exclusively intended for minorities, and that Muslims can still apply for Indian citizenship by other means.

The NRC has yet to come into effect country-wide – currently enforced only in the state of Assam – but would establish a database for all Indian citizens. Like the CAA, opponents insist the law would disproportionately impact Muslims, effectively stripping them of citizenship if they are unable to produce certain documents, however supporters argue the measure is merely an effort to stem illegal immigration.

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