This article originally appeared on VICE India.
The highly contested Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) that has rocked the nation for more than a month now continues to be vehemently opposed, especially on the country’s 71st Republic Day. However, while most people are concerned about whether the Muslims-excluding law should be implemented at all, one priest in Hyderabad is more worried about what this would mean for Hindu gods. So, he has proposed that all the idols of Hindu gods also be given Indian citizenship through the CAA.
Arguing that if refugees could be given citizenship then so should gods, chief priest CS Rangarajan of Hyderabad’s Chilkur Balaji temple wants all Hindu gods like Venkateswara Swamy in Tirumala, Ayyappa Swamy in Sabarimala, and Padmanabhaswamy in Kerala to be registered as citizens. “Under Section 5(4) of the Citizenship (Amendment) Act a minor can obtain citizenship rights, so deities of all the temples can be given citizenship rights under this provision,” he said. Rangarajan believes that since these deities can be represented in court by a priest, trustee or executive officer, they would count as minors.
He then went on to complain that Hindu temples, religious and charitable institutions were being threatened by the ideology of a secular state that is enshrined in the Indian Constitution. “Despite the constitutional provisions and judicial decisions, Hindu temples and religious and charitable institutions are routinely taken over by the secular state on the pretext of mismanagement, whereas other religious places are exclusively managed by the respective communities even though Article 26 confers Right to Equality among all sections of citizens,” he said.
Considering that the idols he is seeking citizenship for are simply a symbol of one’s devotion and have never faced persecution from a Muslim-majority nation, they kinda don’t qualify for CAA. And more so, such demands are especially unnecessary at a time when most of the country is arguing that differentiating on the basis of religion is their main issue with the CAA, making a mockery out of a law meant to save persecuted minorities. But while we’re not quite sure whether this priest is being serious or sarcastic, we sincerely hope that his lords be with him, whether he gets them citizenship or not.
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