Special to The South Asian Times
Hicksville, NY: Speaker after speaker at a meeting here on Dec 28 defended India’s new Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA), saying it welcomes all persecuted minorities from neighboring Pakistan, Afghanistan and Bangladesh.
Jagdish Sewhani, president of the American Indian Public Affairs Committee that organized the meeting at Arya Samaj of Long Island, said, “We’ve gathered here to say a big Thank You to Prime Minister Modi and Home Minister Amit Shah for their bold decision on CAA.”
Dr. Nirmal Mattoo, a prominent Kashmiri Pandit (one of 7,000-8,000 of the community in the US), clarified that CAA was neither against persecuted minorities from neighbors nor favored them. Pointing out that Pakistan has a blasphemy law, the physician noted that India has remained secular and democratic since independence. “We’re here as Indian-Americans and want to know what is happening out there (in Pakistan).”
Urmilesh Arya opined that the CAA doesn’t discriminate against Indian Muslims, adding, PM Modi “is interested in developing all sections of the population.”
Dr. Narinder Kukar said that India has remained secular because the country is over 80% Hindu.
Appen Menon, a noted attorney, said the act clearly states that Indian citizenship is offered to religiously persecuted minorities from the three countries who entered India before December 31, 2014. Though Jawaharlal Nehru wanted to chalk out a refugee policy for the country, he never did it. Manmohan Singh, as the opposition leader in the Rajya Sabha, demanded it, but never took up the issue when he became PM. The numbers of Hindus in Pakistan and Bangladesh have “drastically fallen as the rulers there either killed or converted them or forced them to flee,” Menon pointed out.
Kamlesh Mehta, Chairman of The South Asian Times, strongly supported the CAA, adding there should also be a uniform civil code in India.
Mentioning the scrapping of Article 370 by the BJP led government, Sewhani appealed to the gathering of about 100 prominent Indian Americans, “Let’s support Narendrabhai Modi and bring back the lost glory of the country.”
Others who spoke at the meeting included B.R. Patil, Samir Sarkar, Ashok Vyas, Sunil Hali, Vijaypal Arya and Deepak Nandi.