New Delhi: A proposed law to give citizenship to non-Muslims from Pakistan, Bangladesh and Afghanistan was passed by the Lok Sabha on Tuesday despite objections by several Opposition parties, including the Congress and the Left Front. The necessary condition for citizenship is that these non-Muslims ought to have fled religious persecution in the three neighbouring countries and entered India before December 31, 2014.
Most parties from the nor-theast, even those that were allies of the BJP, have also strongly opposed the Bill, saying it is “against the fundamental aspects of the Indian constitution”. They say the Bill links religion to citizenship and want it to be “religion and country neutral”.
Incidentally, a day-long shutdown was observed against the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill, 2016, across the northeast, in which five people were injured. Assam has been witnessing protests since the NDA government said it was going ahead with the controversial bill. In fact on Monday, the Asom Gana Parishad, a regional ally of the BJP, walked out of the ruling coalition in Assam.
As the Congress and the TMC’s demand for sending the Bill again to a parliamentary panel was rejected by the government, they staged a walkout. Responding to a discussion over the Bill, Home Minister Rajnath Singh clarified that the Bill was not confined to Assam but would apply to all states and Union Territories. “The burden of these persecuted migrants will be shared by the whole country.
Assam alone would not have to bear the entire burden and the government is committed to provide all help to the state government and people of Assam,” he said. Dispelling the misgivings about Citizenship Amendment Act, he highlighted the discrimination and religious persecution faced by minority communities in those countries. “They have no place to go to, except India. The Bill will provide relief to persecuted migrants who have come through western borders of the country to states such as Gujarat, Rajasthan, Delhi, Madhya Pradesh and others,” he added.
Soon after the Bill was moved, leader of Congress in the House Mallikarjun Kharge said that his party has several reservations on the Bill. “It has several shortcomings. It is dangerous for the unity and integrity of the country. There is no respect for Assam Accord. It is also a constitutional matter, so resend it to a select committee. Trinamool Congress member Saugata Roy also slammed the Bill, saying it is “divisive.
If it is passed, it will cause fires in the north-east, including Assam…Withdraw this Bill. If you can’t do it, reconstitute the committee,” he said. He accused the government action was the “worst” example of “vote bank” politics. Roy said there was no effort to evolve a consensus in the Joint Committee of Parliament that examined the Bill