Bhubaneswar: Amid apprehensions over the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA), Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik on Wednesday appealed to the people of Odisha not to panic.
“The CAA has nothing to do with Indian citizens. It only deals with foreigners,” the CM said in a statement at Naveen Niwas here. “I would appeal to our citizens that let peace prevail and not to indulge in rumour mongering,” he added.
He also clarified that his party, BJD doesn’t support implementation of the National Register of Citizens (NRC). “BJD members in both the Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha have made it clear that we do not support the NRC,” he said.
The CM’s assurance came a day after anti-CAA protests spilled onto the streets of Bhubaneswar with members of the Muslim community taking out a peaceful rally. They were accompanied by practitioners of other faiths, including Hindus.
The protestors wearing black ribbons and holding placards marched from Satya Nagar Masjid at 11 am, demanding revocation of CAA. It culminated near Sishu Bhavan Square. They raised slogans like, “CAA down down, NRC down down.”
They later submitted a memorandum to the Chief Minister, conveying their apprehensions over the CAA and proposed legislation for nationwide implementation of the NRC.
“We condemn CAA and demand that it be revoked. We respect the Constitution and will always protect its sanctity,” said General Secretary Jamiat-Ulama-i-Odishaof Sayad Naquibul Amin Barki.
In the memorandum, the protestors reminded Naveen of his father Biju Pattnaik’s legacy and his secular credentials. The also stressed Naveen’s 2009 statement when he said “My every single Bone is Secular” while addressing the media.
Ironically, BJD MPs had supported the contentious Citizenship (Amendment) Bill in both houses of Parliament, bringing the Naveen Patnaik-led party’s “secular credentials” under the lens, for the first time.
BJD’s backing the contentious Bill had raised eyebrows in political circles over not just its increasing bonhomie with BJP, but also its perceptible shift in ideological stand rooted in secular values.
Naveen had later met some Muslim leaders and assured them that NRC would not be implemented in the state and allayed apprehensions over the safety of their community after CAA.
However, BJD minority cell general secretary Dilshan Sekhar and several other members within the party minority cell of Balasore district had told the media that they feel like they have been betrayed by their own party.