Amid the raging protests across the country against anti-Citizenship Amendment Act, Odisha Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik on Wednesday (December 17) said that his party will not support the implementation of National Register of Citizens (NRC) in the state. Notably, Patnaik's Biju Janata Dal had supported the Citizenship Amendment Act in both Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha.
"Citizenship Amendment Act has nothing to do with Indian citizens, it only deals with the foreigners. BJD MPs in Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha had made it clear that we don't support NRC, I appeal to citizens to let peace prevail & not to indulge in rumour-mongering," Patnaik told the media.
The Odisha chief minister also urged the groups in Odisha opposed to the new legislation to not create panic because the CAA will not have any effect on Indian Muslims. It may be recalled that the BJD’s decsion to back the Citizenship Amendment Act had triggered protests from minority organisations in Odisha with many claiming that the party had “shed its secular image” by backing the Act which is 'discriminatory' in nature.
In a related development, Union Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad on Wednesday said that the CAA does not affect any citizen, including Muslims, and they are proud Indian citizens. Prasad made the statement amid violent protests against the Act across the country in several places including Delhi, West Bengal, and Assam. He also said that those guilty of violence will not be spared.
Earlier on Wednesday, the Supreme Court issued a notice to the Centre on a batch of 59 pleas challenging the CAA. The apex court, however, refuses to stay the implementation of the Act. The apex court has directed the Centre to submit its reply by the second week of January 2020. A three-judge bench comprising Chief Justice (CJI) SA Bobde and Justices BR Gavai and Surya Kant heard the pleas and ordered that the next hearing will be on January 22, 2020. Pleading on behalf of the government Attorney General Venugopal said, "There are four judgments of the SC that the Act cannot be stayed."
The CAA seeks to grant Indian citizenship to refugees from Hindu, Christian, Sikh, Buddhist and Parsi communities fleeing religious persecution from Pakistan, Afghanistan and Bangladesh who entered India on or before December 31, 2014.