Amid protests against the Citizenship (Amendment) Act (CAA) and the National Register of Citizens (NRC) across the country, Goa Chief Minister Pramod Sawant has said that the latter may “not be required” at all in the state.
Speaking to reporters on the sidelines of a function in North Goa district on Sunday, Sawant also said, that Goan residents need not fear vis a vis the CAA, even as the Congress accused the BJP-led coalition government in Goa of putting the fates of thousands of Goans holding Portuguese passports and their immediate families in peril.
When asked if the NRC would be implemented in Goa, the Chief Minister said that it may “not be required at all”.
When Sawant was questioned about a recent extraordinary state government gazette notification, which says that the process of updating the National Population Register “which is being seen as the precursor to the implementation of the NRC” would 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 added.
The Chief Minister, however, said, that the CAA would have no impact on residents of Goa. If Portuguese passport holders want to “convert” their existing citizenship into Indian citizenship, there are existing procedures for the same, Sawant also said.
His assurance comes at a time when the implementation of the NRC and the CAA has seen opposition in several parts of the country.
In Goa too the Congress has begun to exert pressure on Sawant and the BJP to explain, how they would safeguard the interests of thousands of Goan Portuguese passport holders and their immediate kin.
The coastal state of Goa, a Portuguese colony for over 450 years gained independence from Portuguese rule in 1961. The departing Portuguese however offered Goan natives of choosing Portuguese citizenship. The privilege of availing of 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 and subsequently to the UK, thanks to the easy access across countries under the aegis of the European Union. A significant number of ex-pat Goans have also availed of the ‘Bilhete de Identidade’, the Portuguese national identity card, which takes the applicant a step closer towards obtaining the Portuguese passport. Rough estimates suggest that up to 30,000 Goans are living in the United Kingdom, using the Portuguese citizenship route.