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‘Why Should I Prove I am Indian?’: Chhattisgarh CM Bhupesh Baghel Says Won’t Sign NRC

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Asking why he should prove that he is an Indian, Chhattisgarh chief minister Bhupesh Baghel has said he will be the “first person” to not sign the National Register of Citizens if the Centre implements it across the country.

“We have a big challenge in front of us with the Bharatiya Janata Party at the Centre. Their policies are only to mislead people, to instigate people, to set fire, to cut and divide,” Baghel was quoted as saying to his party workers in Raipur by the Indian Express.

The Congress leader is the latest to join the growing coterie of chief ministers who have voiced opposition to the NRC, which is seen as the next step to the implementation of the Citizenship Amendment Act.

Earlier in the day, Odisha CM Naveen Patnaik, whose BJD had supported the CAA in Parliament, had also said he would not support an all-India NRC.

The Chhattisgarh chief minister said the country is burning today because of the CAA.

“All of Assam is burning. Its effects are being felt in West Bengal, in Assam, in Uttar Pradesh. It’s spreading like fire. And (Home Minister) Amit Shah says this is the beginning and they will implement NRC. When they do this, what will happen if you sign the register? They will certify if you are Indian. If someone doesn’t have land, or someone is old, or isn’t literate, how will they prove they are Indian? And if they can’t prove, where will they send (them)?” Baghel told the newspaper.

Baghel also slammed the government for using violence to silence the protesting students. “There is misbehaviour with students, there is assault on them. There is murder, arson. They are creating an environment of fear in the country. Their only objective is to stay in power,” he said referring to the police action on students protesting against the amended Citizenship Act in several states.

The Parliament had passed the contentious Act, which excludes Muslims from a faster and simpler process to acquire citizenship. It has spawned fears that in combination with the NRC, it could lead to Muslims falling through the cracks and becoming stateless, although the government has repeatedly asserted that no Indian of any religion would be affected by CAA.

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