INTERVIEW: KIREN RIJIJU
The issue of the National Register of Citizens (NRC) in Assam has sharply polarised political parties. Union minister of state for home affairs KIREN RIJIJU explains the government’s stand on NRC and other issues such as Rohingya asylum, anti-lynching law, the low rate of conviction in rape cases, Hindutva terrorism and a possible RSS invite to Rahul Gandhi. Excerpts from an interview with
Q. Will the NRC be implemented across India, as demanded by some political groups and leaders?
We have not reached a stage where we can talk about a nationwide NRC. Let us first complete it in Assam.
Q. What about those left out of the final NRC? India doesn’t have a policy for stateless people.
Once the final NRC is out, those excluded will no longer enjoy the privileges bona fide Indian citizens are entitled to. These people can take legal recourse from the foreigners’ tribunal, the high court and Supreme Court. If courts declare an individual an Indian citizen, he or she will get back their rights.
Q. The perception is that the BJP wants to grant citizenship to the Hindu illegal immigrants from Bangladesh. Isn’t that the motive behind the Citizenship Amendment Bill, 2016? I cannot comment as the bill is lying with Parliament.
Q. But in the Rajya Sabha you said people from six religious groups—Hindu, Sikh, Buddhist, Parsi, Jain and Christian—who faced
religious persecution and came to India before December 31, 2014, are not illegal immigrants.
It isn’t like that. Their stay is not illegal. But they don’t become Indian citizens. They must prove religious persecution to make their stay legal.
Q. Why does the same policy not apply to the Muslim Rohingya?
We have provided refugee status to certain groups as these people have been forcefully dislodged from their homeland or faced religious persecution in their native country. The Rohingya don’t fall under this category. They have entered India illegally.
Q. Will there be a strict law against lynching?
A four-member committee will examine whether a separate law is needed to curb lynching and mob violence. We have sent guidelines to the states to coordinate with social media providers to stop rumours and fake news.
Q. The RSS is likely to invite Rahul Gandhi. What’s your message to him?
The Congress is the most intolerant party. It doesn’t even want the RSS to exist. Even if Rahul accepts the RSS invite, he doesn’t have it in him to understand the organisation because he is superficial in his approach to life and values.
Q. Rahul says Chinese soldiers are still in Doklam. Chinese soldiers have always been there. The issue was about road construction, not about troop presence. Rahul Gandhi talks nonsense. Q. The Maharashtra police arrested members of a Hindutva outfit in connection with a terror plot. Is Hindutva terror on the rise? This is just political terminology. It’s Congress politics, which is all about the Muslim vote bank. They invented this term. The government will take action against anyone involved in acts of terror.
Q. PM Narendra Modi talks about zero tolerance for rape. Why is the conviction rate in rape cases so low? We have made strong laws. Now our focus is on implementation. In the monsoon session, we passed the Criminal Law (Amendment) Bill, 2018. It provides for time-bound investigations and fast-track courts. However, laws alone are not enough, society has to change as well.
“Hindutva terror is just political terminology. The Congress invented this term”