India remains a robust democracy

 

Sir, – I refer to the inflammatory editorial in The Irish Times “India’s Narendra Modi: fanning the flames” (March 9th).

The editorial is singularly one-sided.

The reference to Narendra Modi as “India’s Hindu-nationalist prime minister” and allegations of sectarian tensions being “fanned by Modi’s ruling party and its sinister affiliate, RSS” are totally unacceptable.

Mr Modi is a democratically elected prime minister of the world’s largest democracy, and represents not just “Hindu-nationalists” but all religions and communities in India.

The Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) is an affirmative action of the government of India aimed to address the issue of statelessness and basic human rights of certain categories of minorities who have been victims of religious persecution from Pakistan, Afghanistan and Bangladesh, and came into India prior to December 31st, 2014.

This action is legally and constitutionally permissible. In the past, too, India has granted citizenship to categories of peoples in response to specific situations – just like in other parts of the world, including the EU and US, where countries have determined criteria for migration and citizenship.

The CAA has a broader perspective, rather than discriminating on the basis of religion, race or ethnicity, or in any way affecting the principle of equality enshrined in India’s constitution.

It is entirely in line with India’s international human rights obligations. The legislation is a humanitarian measure to address the long-standing predicament of vulnerable sections living in India.

The CAA does not affect any existing Indian citizen of any religion, so there is no question of it being against Indian Muslims. India remains a robust democracy, where the constitution is supreme.

There is ample room for debate and opposition, and an established legal and judicial mechanism for redress of grievances.

Within this currently the CAA is under the judicial review of the Supreme Court of India, which will provide remedial measures for any violation.

While peaceful protest is acceptable, violence is not. There needs to be full accountability for destruction of public property and attacks on police personnel and institutions.

Regrettably, this aspect has not been brought out in your editorial. – Yours, etc,

SOMNATH CHATTERJEE,

Counsellor (Political),

Embassy of India,

Ballsbridge,

Dublin 4.