PANJI – After Kerala’s Christian group opposed the CAA, now the Goa Archbishop, an influential leader in the state, called on the government to desist from implementing the National Register of Citizens across the country as well as to revoke the “divisive and discriminatory” Citizenship Amendment Act.
In a statement to the media on Saturday, the Archbishop Filipe Néri Ferrão has expressed his “serious concern” that the National Population Register whose data is expected to be used for a countrywide roll out of the NRC “will result in a direct victimisation of the underprivileged classes.”
“The very fact that the CAA uses religion goes against the secular fabric of the country. It goes against the spirit and heritage of our land which, since times immemorial, has been a welcoming home to all, founded on the belief that the whole world is one big family.
Underlining the effect of the NRC on the poor section of the society, the Archbishop said “Such exercises will result in a direct victimisation of the underprivileged classes, particularly the Dalits, the Adivasis, the migrant labourers, the nomadic communities and the countless undocumented people, who, after having been recognized as worthy citizens and voters for more than seventy years in this great nation, will suddenly run the risk of becoming stateless and candidates for detention camps in their teeming millions”.
He went on to warn that the government’s steps would lead to a systematic erosion of the values, principles and rights guaranteed to all citizens by the Constitution.
“These initiatives issuing forth from the Government are forecasting a systematic erosion of the values, principles and rights which have been guaranteed to all citizens in our Constitution and which the citizens are called to protect and promote. The Christians in India have always been a peace-loving community and deeply committed to the ideals of justice, liberty, equality and fraternity, enshrined in the Constitution of India,” the Archbishop said.
He also warned that the CAA, the NRC and the NPR are divisive and discriminatory and will damage India’s multicultural democracy.
“No one, particularly the poor and the marginalised, the minorities and other vulnerable groups, should be excluded in any way. These are universal values which clearly resonate in almost every religion as well as in the Constitution of India. The CAA, the NRC and the NPR are divisive and discriminatory and will certainly have a negative and damaging effect on a multicultural democracy like ours,” the Archbishop said while calling on the government to “listen to the voice of millions in India, to stop quashing the right to dissent and, above all, to immediately and unconditionally revoke the CAA and desist from implementing the NRC and the NPR.”
The Goa Archbishop who has consistently articulated his views on the relevant social and political issues having in the past publicly raising concerns that the “constitution was in danger.”
The Church in Goa has actively lent its support to movements and protests often taking on the government. It has recently backed civil society organisations in their protests against the CAA, NPR and NRC.
Protests against the CAA and the NRC continue to rage in different places since December with Delhi’s Shaheen Bagh becoming a symbol of defiance and inspiring similar demonstrations in other cities like Kolkata and Lucknow.