As opposition parties step up efforts to corner the government, Union Home Minister Amit Shah on Tuesday signalled that the Bharatiya Janata Party-led national coalition was firm on implementing the citizenship law that has led to protests in parts of Delhi and beyond.
"I want to say (to opposition) oppose politically as much as you want, but Narendra Modi government is firm and we will ensure that people who have been deprived of their rights for so many years will be given citizenship ," the home minister said at an event to lay the foundation stone of a park, Bharat Vandana Park, in west Delhi.
The home minister's challenge to the opposition came around the same time hundreds of people in east Delhi's Seelampur hit the streets against changes to the citizenship bill. Soon, the protest turned violent with stones and bottles being thrown at police personnel who responded with tear-gas shells to disperse them.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who pinned the blame for the protests on the Congress, told an election rally in Jharkhand that the opposition party was being used by urban naxals to attack the provisions. He also asked if the Congress wanted the government to extend Indian citizenship to Pakistanis.
The amended citizenship law provides citizenship to undocumented minorities who entered India from three Islamic countries - Pakistan, Bangladesh and Afghanistan - in India's neighbourhood.
Amit Shah, who spoke a few hours in national capital Delhi, picked up from where the prime minister left it to continue the offensive.
Amit Shah said the opposition was trying to "mislead" people about the intention behind the law and reiterated that changes to the citizenship law weren't designed to take away anyone's rights, but give them to people who had faced persecution in India's neighbourhood due to their religion.
"The entire opposition is trying to mislead the population. I am saying again that nobody's citizenship will be taken away. This was part of Nehru-Liaquat pact but was not implemented for 70 years because the Congress wanted to make a vote bank.
In April 1950, a treaty was singed between the then Prime Minister of India Jawahar Lal Nehru and the then Prime Minister of Pakistan Liaquat Ali Khan called the Nehru-Liaquat Agreement, regarding the security and rights of minorities, and enjoins the two countries to ensure "complete equality of citizenship" and "full sense of security" for their minorities.
The Nehru-Liaquat pact, signed following communal disturbances in Bengal, Assam and Tripura, states minorities should look "to the Government of their own State" for the "redress of their grievances", and that the two government will "not recognise forced conversions".
"Modi government has implemented the pact which will give citizenship to lakhs and crores of people," said Shah at the event in Delhi.