Maharashtra Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray on Monday did away with his predecessor former CM Devendra Fadnavis’ decision of constructing the state’s first detention centre to house ‘illegal immigrants’ in Nerul, Navi Mumbai.
He also said that the amendments to the controversial Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) and the proposed National Register of Citizens (NRC) will not be implemented in the state. The Shiv Sena, a former ally of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) had voted for the CAA in the Lok Sabha but had refrained from voting for it in the Rajya Sabha. The party’s soured over seat-sharing during the Maharashtra State Assembly Elections and the Shiv Sena formed an alliance with the Congress and the Nationalist Congress Party to form a majority government in the state.
Scroll.in reported that the CM met with two delegations of clerics and Muslim politicians assuring them that they had nothing to fear with regards to their future in the state. “The chief minister assured that no decision has been taken regarding the CAA or the NRC in Maharashtra,” South Mumbai MLA Amin Patel, who was present at the meeting, told Scroll.in. “Even if it is ever implemented, the government will ensure Muslims are made part of it, he told us.”
Ministers Eknath Shinde and Subhash Desai, MLA Abdul Sattar of the Shiv Sena, Nawab Malik of the NCP, Abu Azmi of the SP and DGP Subodh Jaiswal and Mumbai Police Commissioner Sanjay Barve were also present at the meeting.
The Indian Express had quoted Thackeray as saying, “Several misunderstandings are being spread about detention camps. That is a system is for foreign nationals who have served their sentence for the cases related to drugs or other [offences]. These foreign nationals are kept in detention camps during the time till they complete their documentation process for deportation. So, there is no need to…fear about it [detention camps].”
The former BJP government in the state had identified a building with an area of around 3 acres to build a detention centre to keep ‘illegal immigrants’ in.
Talking about the NRC (if it is implemented) and the current unrest in some states of the country, he said, “It (NRC) will not only be for Muslims, but for all religions. There is an atmosphere of unrest and fear in the country… we must make efforts to ensure the state’s reputation and tradition of being peaceful. Nobody’s rights will be taken away. The government is strong enough to protect the rights of citizens of all religions.”
Cabinet Minister Balasahed Thorat at a protest organized at Rajghat by the Congress, had also confirmed that the CAA would not be implemented in the state.
— Balasaheb Thorat (@bb_thorat) December 23, 2019
Last week, replying to the Governor’s address during the winter session at the lower house of Parliament, Uddhav Thackeray had said, “Now we came to know that politics is a gamble. We suffered a lot by mixing religion with politics. This, three-party Maha Vikas Aghadi government is our wealth.”
While protests against the CAA and NRC have largely remained peaceful in the state, some incidents of stone-pelting were reported from the Beed, Nanded and Parbhani districts of central Maharashtra last week. The police in these areas were reported to have arrested around 104 people with regards to the violence. They also claimed to have filed 12,200 cases against agitators in the three districts.
Speaking about the same Thackeray had said that he was aware of the protests turning violent. He said, “In a few places, protests have turned violent. At such times, it is important to alleviate the fears and clear the misunderstandings in the people’s minds. I have myself spoken to the law enforcement agencies about this.”
He appealed to the demonstrators to protest peacefully asking them to not take the law in their hands.
Maharashtra has become the newest state to join West Bengal, Kerala, Bihar, Odisha, Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh in their decision to boycott the CAA and NRC. Andhra Pradesh CM YS Jagan Mohan Reddy too has clarified that the state government would not implement the NRC if it is brought in.
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