“There is no harm in backtracking; changing course if this is necessary for the good of the people and our people,” the letter added as a message to the government.

Catholic Archbishop of Bengaluru Peter Machado speaks out against CAARev Peter Machado (center) in a screengrab
news CAA Thursday, January 09, 2020 - 14:54

The Catholic Archbishop of Bengaluru, Rev Peter Machado has now spoken out against the controversial Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA). In a letter to President Ram Nath Kovind, Prime Minister Narendra Modi, and Governor of Karnataka Vajubhai Vala, the Archbishop said that religion should never be the criterion for granting citizenship, and asked the government to change course if necessary for the good of the country and the people. 

The letter begins by saying that this letter is a response from all the Christian citizens of Karnataka to the controversial CAA. “While appealing to the citizens to maintain peace and harmony and that they should not recourse to violent methods to fight for their cause, 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,” the letter said. 

“There is a danger that there could be a polarisation of our people along religious lines which is very harmful for the country. Religion should never be the criteria for the citizenship of our country. Nor is violence the solution when there is a difference of opinions. It is necessary that the government dialogues with those opposing the Act and come to an agreement about the way forward with justice, equity and fairness,” it added. 

“There is no harm in backtracking; changing course if this is necessary for the good of the people and our people,” the letter added as a message to the government. 

“We also express our solidarity with those who have been discriminated on the basis of religion and assure them of our support and fellowship that justice may be granted to them and that all of us may live as one family as brothers and sisters in this motherland,” the Archbishop’s letter said. 

The recently passed amendment to the Citizenship Act makes it easy for refugees from Pakistan, Bangladesh, and Afghanistan to get citizenship in India, but only if they are Hindu, Christian, Sikh, Jain, Parsi, or Buddhist. The exclusion of Muslims has been criticised by several people across the country; there have been massive protests in several parts of India as the combination of CAA and the proposed nationwide National Register of Citizens could potentially make it difficult for Muslims in India to prove their citizenship. The CAA also does not help Sri Lankan Tamils, which has become a point of contention. 

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