Prime Minister Narendra Modi was on Wednesday reported as saying at the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) Parliamentary party meeting that some Opposition parties are “speaking the same language as Pakistan” on the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill, 2019.
The opposition parties have termed the Bill as “anti-minority” and “unconstitutional”.
Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan had on Tuesday “strongly” condemned the passing of the controversial Citizenship Bill.
“We strongly condemn Indian Lok Sabha citizenship legislation which violates all norms of international human rights law and bilateral agreements with Pakistan,” Khan said in a tweet.
He further said that the CAB “is part of the RSS ‘Hindu Rashtra’ design of expansionism propagated by the fascist Modi government.”
Meanwhile, senior BJP leaders including Rajnath Singh, Nirmala Sitharaman, S Jaishankar, Ravi Shankar Prasad were present at the meeting among others.
After the meet, Parliamentary Affairs Minister Prahlad Joshi said PM Modi hailed the Citizenship Bill as “historic” and said that it will be “written in golden letters for people who are persecuted on basis of religion”.
The Parliamentary party meeting comes ahead of tabling the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill, 2019 in Rajya Sabha.
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.
The Citizenship (Amendment) Bill seeks to provide Indian citizenship to non-Muslim refugees coming from Pakistan, Bangladesh and Afghanistan after facing religious persecution there.
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.
Several opposition parties including the Congress, Trinamool Congress and Samajwadi Party have opposed the bill.
Protests have erupted in the northeast over the controversial bill, where the indigenous people are worried that the entry of these people will endanger their identity and livelihood.
According to the provisions of the CAB, the new legislation would not be applied in the 10 Tribal Autonomous District Council (TADC) areas of Assam (3 TADC), Meghalaya (3), Mizoram (3) and Tripura (one).
Also, the new legislation on citizenship would not be executed in three northeastern states — Arunachal, Nagaland and Mizoram — where the Inner Line Permit (ILP) regime is applicable.
Despite the exemptions, the agitating organisations and political parties in the Northeast have remained firm on their demand for withdrawing CAB, claiming the exemptions would not be able to check infiltrations or protect the demographic positions of the indigenous people of the northeast region.