Art of Living founder Sri Sri Ravi Shankar has made a case for Sri Lankan Tamil refugees and persecuted minorities within Islam, including Ahmadiyyas, to be included within the ambit of the Citizenship Amendment Act. The arguments were made during his interview with India TV’s Editor-in-Chief Rajat Sharma in Aap Ki Adalat, which airs on Saturday at 10 PM.
"I have never opposed the law per se. But I am free to put forth my suggestions. I believe that Sri Lankan Tamil refugees must be included in the new legislation," the spiritual leader said, when asked about his thoughts on the new citizenship law by the senior journalist.
Sri Sri expressed concern that approximately 1.25 lakh Tamil refugees who have been in India for the past 35 years are yet to be awarded Indian citizenship.
"When these Tamil refugees settle in western countries like the US, they are given citizenship in a relatively short period of time," he said.
Recalling a campaign that he had supervised back when the late APJ Abdul Kalam was India's President, Sri Sri said that he was able to muster one crore signatures from Tamil Nadu in favour of granting Sri Lankan Tamil refugees Indian citizenship.
"They are living in a pitiable state in the refugee camps," said Sri Sri.
“Many of these Sri Lankan Tamil refugees got married and borne children in Indian refugee camps. They have been surviving just on a pittance all these years," he noted.
When asked by Sharma if the demands of citizenship law protestors, to include even Muslims in the CAA, were valid, Sri Sri replied, "Everyone has the right to put forth their views in a democracy."
"There are persecuted minorities even in Pakistan. For instance, the state of Ahmadiyyas in Pakistan is deplorable. They should also find a place in the new legislation," argued Sri Sri.
When asked if India's image overseas has been affected after the citizenship law protests rocked the country, Sri Sri Ravi Shankar conceded that the country's perception overseas has indeed taken a hit. "Yes, the image has been affected. On my part, I have tried alleviating fears about the Citizenship Amendment Act wherever I have travelled."
"The apprehensions are being spread because of a lack of proper understanding about the new law. As an Indian, I am duty-bound to correct some unfounded fears," he said.
The full episode of Aap Ki Adalat airs on India TV at 10 PM on Saturday.