NRC may not be required at all in Goa: CM

Panaji, Dec 23: Amid nationwide protests against the Citizenship (Amendment) Act (CAA) and the National Register of Citizens (NRC), Goa Chief Minister Pramod Sawant has said that the latter may “not be required” at all in the state.

Reacting to Sawant’s statement, the Congress has said that the Chief Minister’s reservations about implementing the NRC in Goa was on account of his “conscience” which believes that the controversial exercise would do more damage than good not only to Muslims, but to every citizen of the country.

Speaking to reporters on the sidelines of a function in North Goa district on Sunday, Sawant asked the people of Goa not to fear the CAA even as the Congress accused the BJP-led coalition government of putting the fate of thousands of Goans holding a Portuguese passport in jeopardy.

If Portuguese passport holders want to “convert” their existing citizenship into Indian citizenship, there are existing procedures for the same, Sawant said.

When asked if the NRC would be implemented in Goa, the Chief Minister said that it may “not be required at all”.

Speaking on the issue of the National Population Register which is being seen as the precursor to the implementation of the NRC and is scheduled to begin from April 2020, the Goa Chief Minister said that he would make a statement on the issue only after reading the gazette notification. “I am not making any statement… I will go through the new notification and then I will make a statement,” he said.

Reacting to Sawant’s comment on the NRC, Goa Congress spokesperson Trajano D’Mello said: “The CM’s statement that ‘NRC may not be required at all’ in Goa is the reflection of his conscience which believes that NRC would do more damage than good not only to Muslims, but to every citizen of the country”.

“The results of Jharkhand in the midst of the protests is a clear sign that the polarisation tactics are not being accepted by the majority community,” D’Mello also said.

The coastal state of Goa, a Portuguese colony for over 450 years gained independence from Portuguese rule in 1961. The departing Portuguese, however, had offered Goan natives the choice of Portuguese citizenship. The facility of obtaining Portuguese citizenship was later granted to Goans who had lived in Portuguese-ruled Goa, as well as their off-springs up to three generations down the line.

Thousands of Goans have used the opportunity to migrate to Portugal, going subsequently on to the UK, thanks to the easy access across countries of the European Union. A significant number of expat Goans have also availed of the ‘Bilhete de Identidade’, the Portuguese national identity card, which takes the applicant a step closer towards obtaining a Portuguese passport. Rough estimates suggest that up to 30,000 Goans are living in the UK, using the Portuguese citizenship route.