Hyderabad: Amid a raging debate and protests across the country over the Citizenship Amendment Act, Chilkur Balaji temple chief priest C S Rangarajan has sought citizenship for his deity. “When all the refugees can be given citizenship under the newly amended citizenship act, why can’t all the temple gods get citizenship?”

The priest offers his justification for the demand. “In legal language, every deity is a perpetual minor, so there should be someone like a priest or other friendly person who will represent the deity in a court of law. There is a provision under Section 5(4) of CAA through which a minor can be given citizenship rights. So under this provision, the gods in all temples can be given citizenship rights.”

Rangarajan says the Sabarimala verdict has proved that the secular state of India is a threat to a Hindu deity’s religious freedom, “According to the Supreme Court's Sabarimala verdict, the Hindu deity doesn’t have any constitutional rights. The board had argued that the deity wanted to be celibate so women in their menstrual age cannot be allowed to worship there, but the court denied this and said a deity cannot have such kind of constitutional right.”

The Chilkur priest says the Ayodhya judgment contradicted the Sabarimala ruling by saying that the deity has rights so that it can continue the pious purpose of its existence. “Based on this judgement and under the newly amended citizenship act, we want the Centre to give citizenship to each and every deity.”

He says, “I am asking citizenship under the newly amended Act because it gives citizenship to religious minorities from different neighbouring countries and even my god is a minority. He doesn’t have the right to even be worshipped the way he wants to. So all Hindu deities should be given citizenship so that they also get their constitutional rights.”

The priest says the Ayyappa Swamy of Sabarimala should be given the citizenship first so that the god can practise his pious purpose of ‘Naishtika Brahmacharyam’ (celibacy).

Aiswarya Sriram

Aiswarya Sriram is a budding multimedia journalist and is currently working for NewsMeter as a "Factcheck Freelancer". A graduate from Indian Institute of Journalism and New Media (IIJNM) Bangalore, Aiswarya has earlier worked with The Logical Indian and has interned with Republic TV. Aiswarya, a Tamilian who was born and brought up in Mumbai, loves to do rural reporting. She has visited Byadgi Taluk of Karnataka, to write about the issues faced by chilli factory workers there, earlier in 2019. A craft enthusiast, Aiswarya also does quilling, painting and glass work. On her off-days, she loves to read crime-thrillers and watch anime. She primarily reports on civic issues, GHMC, human-interesting features, and fact-checking video stories.

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