By Ivan Saldanha - Shet

Bengaluru , Jan 9 : An representative body consisting of all Christian denominations in Karnataka on Thursday January 9, 2020 urged the federal government to grant citizenship to illegal migrants not on the basis of their religions but on the merit of each individual case.

“We wish to reiterate the statement made by the Archbishop of Bombay, Oswald Cardinal Gracias, who is the head of the Catholic Church in India, on December 27 regarding CAA that there is a danger of polarization of people along religious lines, which is very harmful for the country,” says a memorandum from the All Kerala United Christian Forum for Human Rights.

Archbishop Peter Machado of Bangalore, president of the forum, told media that copies of the memorandum have been presented to the president and prime minister through the Karnataka governor.

The Indian president on December 12 signed the Citizenship Amendment Act that accords citizenship to illegal Buddhist, Christian, Hindu, Jain, Parsi and Sikh migrants from Afghanistan, Bangladesh and Pakistan.

The Christian forum welcomed the new law reducing the duration of citizenship by naturalization from 11 years to five years.

However, its memorandum regrets that the act has caused misunderstanding among people and led to violence and unrest in various parts of the country.

“We appeal to the Central Government to grant citizenship to the illegal migrants not on the basis of their religions, but on the merit of each individual case,” pleads the memorandum.

At the same time, the forum appealed to all to maintain peace and harmony and not to take recourse to violent methods to fight their cause.

“Religion should never be the criterion for citizenship of a country. Nor is violence a solution when there is a difference of opinion,” the forum asserts.

It urged the federal government to dialogue with those opposing the Act, and come to “an agreement about the way forward with justice, equity and fairness. There is no harm in backtracking or changing course if this is necessary for the good of the country and our people.”

Archbishop Machado says such a move could mete out justice to all the illegal migrants and promote equality among them. “More so, it can also convince the citizens of the country that (the government) upholds the sacredness of the Constitution and respects the right of all linguistic and religious minorities without any discrimination.”

The forum assured the national leaders that Christians will continue to work for the betterment of all citizens and help build the nation based on equality, justice and fairness.

It also expressed its solidarity with those discriminated on the basis of religion and assured them Christians’ support and fellowship so that all can live as family in “our Mother Land.” The constitution is premier in this cace too.

Catholic News from Bengaluru

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