The Lok Sabha today passed the Citizenship Amendment Bill, that seeks to provide Indian citizenship to non-Muslims from Pakistan, Afghanistan and Bangladesh. Introducing the bill, Home Minister Rajnath Singh said it will pay way for the religious minorities- the Hindus, Jains, Christians, Sikhs, Buddhists and Parsis- from these states to get Indian citizenship. He made it clear that this bill was not intended only for Assam, but to the entire country.
Rajnath Singh said the bill will pave the way for Indian citizenship to the “persecuted religious minorities”– the Hindus, Jains, Christians, Sikhs, Buddhists Singh said the migrants – Hindus, Jains, Christians, Sikhs, Buddhists and Parsis – were earlier given protection against legal action in 2015 and 2016. “Long term visa provision was made for them. The proposed amendment will make these persecuted migrants eligible to apply for citizenship,” he said. Singh said citizenship will be given to them only after due scrutiny and recommendation of district authorities and the state government.
The minimum residency period for citizenship is proposed to be reduced from existing 12 years under the present law to seven years. The legislation also seeks to provide relief to persecuted migrants who have come through western borders of the country to states like Gujarat, Rajasthan, Delhi, Madhya Pradesh and other states, the home minister said.
The bill will apply to all states and union territories of the country and the beneficiaries of Citizenship Amendment Bill will be able to reside in any state of the country. “I want to clarify that this bill is not for Assam alone, this bill is also for migrants who have come from the western borders. Assam is dealing with illegal migration for a long time now and Assam’s burden is India’s burden”, Rajnath added.
The Congress said many states have opposed the bill and it should be sent to a select committee. With Speaker Sumitra Mahajan not heading the demand, the Congress staged a walkout. TMC’s Saugata Roy dubbed the bill as “divisive” and “insidious” and said it goes against the basic tenents of the constitution.
The legislation has resulted in protests, primarily in Assam and several parts of north-east India. BJP’s ally in the state, the Asom Gano Parishad has withdrawn support from the state government over the issue, whereas the Shiv Sena and JD(U) too have opposed the legislation.