Union Home Minister Amit Shah on Wednesday tabled the contentious Citizenship (Amendment) Bill, 2019, in the Rajya Sabha, that seeks to provide Indian citizenship to non-Muslim refugees coming from Pakistan, Bangladesh and Afghanistan after facing religious persecution there.
Amid objections against the Citizenship Bill, Shah said it is “a ray of hope for lakhs of persecuted people”.
Expressing his concern, Shah in his opening address said it is “unfortunate” that the minorities in Pakistan, Afghanistan and Bangladesh have not been given a chance to live as equals in their country.
“There has been an almost 20 per cent decline each in the population of religious minorities in both Pakistan and present-day Bangladesh. Either they were killed or they fled to India for shelter,” he said.
He, however, asserted that the Muslims in India need not be worried over the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill while adding that misinformation has been spread that this bill is anti-Muslim.
“I want to ask the people how is this bill related to Indian Muslims? They are Indian citizens and will always remain, no discrimination against them,” Shah said.
The Home Minister added that no Muslim in India needs to worry as the Narendra Modi government is working according to the Constitution that the minorities get full protection.
On concerns of the people of Northeast India, Sha said; “As for the cultural identity of the northeast, it has been addressed and this bill not applying to almost all of the northeast has already been approved. Based on this, MPs in the Lok Sabha went ahead and supported the bill too.”
Speaking on Assam, Amit Shah assured that the NDA Government through committee to supervise clause 6 of the 1985 Assam Accord will protect the rights of the indigenous people of the state.
Shah further asked the opposition parties to not politicize the Citizenship Bill.
Opposing the Bill, Congress’ Anand Sharma told Rajya Sabha that CAB has “hurt the soul of India” and is an “assault at the very foundation of the Constitution of India”.
“This bill has been in the news for some time now… this bill was introduced back in 2016 as well. However, I am here to tell you Chairman sir, that both I and my party do not agree with this bill and its contents. We cannot find ourselves able to align with this bill. We feel it is unconstitutional,” he said.
“In fact, I am convinced that this bill is an assault at the very foundation of the constitution of India. It hurts the very soul of the Constitution of India. It goes against the very preamble of the constitution,” Sharma added.
Stating that the Congress had not brought the two-nation theory, Anand Sharma said the Hindu Mahasabha first brought it under Vinayak Savarkar and then Muslim League.
“This bill fails the morality test. It fails the test of the Constitution. No legislation can be pitted against the Constitution of the country,” Sharma argued.
In the 245-member Rajya Sabha, the halfway mark is currently 121 as five seats are vacant bringing down the strength of the House to 240.
The Bill, which is an amendment to the Citizenship Act, 1955 and was passed by the Lok Sabha a little after midnight on Tuesday with 311-80 votes.
According to the proposed legislation, members of Hindu, Sikh, Buddhist, Jain, Parsi and Christian communities, who have come from Pakistan, Bangladesh and Afghanistan, till December 31, 2014, facing religious persecution there, will not be treated as illegal immigrants but given Indian citizenship.
The Bill relaxes the requirement of residence in India from 11 years to six years for these migrants.