Law Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad has said that the Centre is ready to talk to Shaheen Bagh protesters provided "a structured request is sent". Prasad was taking part in India TV's mega conclave Chunav Manch. On Saturday morning the law minister again tweeted an India TV video where he is heard saying that government is ready to talk. Prasad was taking part in a debate with a group of Muslim leaders on the Citizenship Amendment Act at the daylong India TV Conclave on Delhi assembly elections "Chunav Manch" in New Delhi on Wednesday, where he first made the comments.
The Law Minister was asked by India TV anchor why nobody from the Centre had gone to Shaheen Bagh protesters to at least listen to their demands.
In reply, Prasad said: "Today I have listened to this group. But can this group say that it represents the whole community? ..If they want that a representative of the Centre should talk to them, a structured request should come saying that we are ready (for talks)."
Government is ready to talk to protestors of Shaheen Bagh but then it should be in a structured form and the @narendramodi govt is ready to communicate with them and clear all their doubts they have against CAA. pic.twitter.com/UjGikFN8tY— Ravi Shankar Prasad (@rsprasad) February 1, 2020
On some BJP spokesperson and leaders alleging that women protesters at Shaheen Bagh were hired on a daily payment basis, Prasad replied: "I do not think such remarks about Muslim women are proper. People must speak about women and children with respect, but I want to point out that all the reports that we get from Shaheen Bagh are not good."
"Can a few hundred people shut off the voices of thousands of people, whose shops are closed and whose children are unable to go to schools? They have the right to protest, but some of their leaders are saying that there will be no talks until and unless CAA is withdrawn."
The Law Minister asserted that the "Citizenship Amendment Act was not applicable to any Indian citizen. Secondly, CAA neither gives nor revokes anybody's citizenship. I want to make this very clear to all including Indian Muslims. It is only applicable for those minorities in Pakistan, Bangladesh and Afghanistan who are persecuted on grounds of religion. India belongs to Muslims, as much as it belongs to Hindus and others. I want to say this with full commitment. "
"Our thinking is very much clear on CAA. We are ready to discuss with anybody who has confusion over this. I challenge, let anybody show one clause with which he or she does not agree."
Prasad pointed out that former Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh had in 2003 requested the then Home Minister L. K. Advani to grant citizenship to minorities from Pakistan and Bangladesh.
"This is on record in the Rajya Sabha proceedings. I have all the letters from the then Rajasthan chief minister Ashok Gehlot requesting the Centre to grant citizenship to Hindu refugees from Pakistan. I have also letters from then Assam chief minister Tarun Gogoi requesting centre to grant citizenship to minorities from Bangladesh.
"I do not want to delve into the past on what Mahatma Gandhi had promised and what provisions were there in the Nehru-Liaquat Ali Khan pact. If they do this, it's alright, and when we do something, it is being opposed. What is the logic behind this?"