Kerala will not implement the centre’s controversial citizenship law, Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan said on Sunday, reiterating an earlier stand after a new announcement by Union Home Minister Amit Shah that the act will be enforced once the coronavirus vaccination drive ends.
“The Home Minister has said that he will implement CAA (Citizenship Amendment Act) after Covid vaccination campaigns are over. We have already made our stand clear. This government will not allow this disaster in Kerala,” Mr Vijayan said at a campaign event for the assembly elections in the state.
“We have been asked that as a state government, how can we say we will not implement this. We are reiterating, we will not implement CAA,” he said.
The declaration came two days after Amit Shah, in an assurance to a community of Hindu immigrants in West Bengal ahead of elections in the state, said the Citizenship Amendment Act will be implemented after the COVID-19 vaccination drive.
“As soon as the Covid vaccination process ends, the process of granting citizenship under CAA will begin,” he said, addressing Bengal’s Matua community.
Widely criticised as discriminatory since it makes religion a criteria for Indian nationality for the first time, the CAA promises citizenship to non-Muslim immigrants who came in from Bangladesh, Pakistan and Afghanistan before 2015.
Kerala’s communist government had announced last year, when the law was cleared by parliament triggering nationwide protests, that it will not implement it and was the first state to challenge it in Supreme Court.
The CAA, which came into effect last January, had sparked widespread protests as many feared that coupled with the planned nationwide National Register of Citizens or NRC, it would result in lakhs of Muslims losing their citizenship.
The central government, however, says the law is necessary to help those who have faced religious persecution and will not endanger the citizenship of any Indian.