The Lok Sabha today passed the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill which seeks to provide Indian citizenship to non-Muslims from neighbouring countries like Pakistan, Bangladesh and Afghanistan.
The Lok Sabha today passed the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill which seeks to provide Indian citizenship to non-Muslims from neighbouring countries like Pakistan, Bangladesh and Afghanistan. Home Minister Rajnath Singh, while replying to the discussion on the bill, said that it was not against provisions of the Constitution and that it will provide succour to minorities in three countries.
The bill will provide Indian citizenship to the Hindus, Christians, Jains, Sikhs, Parsis and Buddhists from Afghanistan, Pakistan and Bangladesh after six years of residing India rather than ongoing 12 years even when they do not have any document.
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The minister went on to say that a number of leaders including first Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru were in favour of providing shelter to persecuted minorities in neighbouring nations.
Singh added that while Indian leaders signed pacts with neighbouring countries for protection of minorities but it did not happen. The Home minister also said that former PM Manmohan Singh while speaking as leader of the Opposition in Rajya Sabha had urged the then NDA to be more liberal in dealing with the issue of persecuted minorities in Bangladesh.
Rejecting the objections that bill sought to discriminate people on basis of religion, he added as per PTI, “anyone eligible under the provisions under the law will be accorded citizenship”.
Trying to address the concern in Northeast, which saw an 11-hour bandh against the legislation on Tuesday, he said the proposed law will not be confined to Assam only.
“The burden of those persecuted migrants will be shared by the whole country. Assam alone should not have to bear the entire burden. The government of India is committed to giving all help to the State Government and people of Assam,” he was further quoted by the agency as saying.
The passage of the Bill was no smooth sail for the government which faced stiff resistance to the Bill — both from the Opposition as well as within the NDA. While Asom Gana Parishad (AGP), which was a ruling partner in the BJP-led government in Assam decided to withdraw support, Shiv Sena and JD(U) also opposed the legislation.
The Meghalaya and Mizoram governments also opposed the bill. Both state governments adopted a resolution against it in their respective cabinet meetings.
Meanwhile, Union Minister Kiren Rijiju told the Parliament that over 30,000 non-Muslims from Pakistan, Afghanistan and Bangladesh are residing in the country on a long-term visa.
Replying to a written question in Lok Sabha, Rijiju said that due to the absence of any authentic survey, accurate data of the Hindus, Sikhs, Buddhists, Jains and Christians who came from neighbouring countries like Bangladesh, Pakistan, Afghanistan and settled in India including Assam by December 31, 2014, was not available.
“However, as per available information, more than 30,000 persons belonging to such minority communities in these countries are staying in India on a long-term visa,” the minister added.