As anti-citizenship law protests in various universities showed no signs of let up, Union HRD Minister Ramesh Pokhriyal on Sunday said the Central government will not tolerate educational institutions turning into hubs of politicking “at any cost”.
He said that anyone is free to engage in political activities, but colleges and universities should be kept out of it, as many students come to study from far-off places.
“The Narendra Modi government is not going to tolerate this at any cost,” he asserted.
Scores of students from universities across the country, including Jawaharlal Nehru University, Jamia Millia Islamia, Delhi University, Jadavpur University and Presidency University, have been protesting against the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA).
Pokhriyal accused the opposition parties of deliberately spreading misinformation over the CAA. “It is the Congress, which is responsible for the country’s division on religious grounds, that is spreading misinformation about CAA,” he said.
Taking a swipe at West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee for opposing the citizenship law, the minister said the TMC supremo was the one to protest against illegal immigration in the state in 2005 when she was an MP.
“She had vociferously demanded the Citizenship Amendment Bill back then,” he said.
On the new education policy that is under works, Pokhriyal said it would be connected with the values of the country.
“The new education policy, which will be brought out after a gap of 33 years, will be India-centric and connected with the country’s values,” he said.
Pokhriyal said the country’s education will advance through knowledge, science and investigation.
He sought to justify the Centre’s decision to grant citizenship to religious minorities from Pakistan, Afghanistan and Bangladesh, contending that these countries are “not secular”.
The minister said that during Partition, religious minorities—including Hindus, Buddhists, Sikhs, Jains and Christians—accounted for “over 23 per cent” of Pakistan’s population, but the figure stands at “around 3 per cent” at present.
“I want to ask Mamataji, where have these people gone and the Congress should also give an answer as to whether they were forced to change religion or killed or forced to flee?” he said.
Pokhriyal claimed that the Muslim population in India has grown from “9 per cent during Independence to 14 per cent at present”.
“The opposition is referring to Article 14 of the Constitution, but the Constitution is for the citizens of the country and it is not a charity house for the whole world,” he said, asserting that there is equality for every citizen irrespective of religion.
Pokhriyal said there is “no bigger” a well-wisher of Muslims of the country than Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
Asked about the protests against West Bengal Governor Jagdeep Dhankhar at universities, he said it is the failure of the state government and an indication that law and order situation is “slipping out of the hands” of the administration.