During a debate over the contentious Citizenship (Amendment) Bill in Lok Sabha on Monday, Union Home Minister Amit Shah made it clear that Rohingya Muslims from Myanmar will never be accepted as citizens of India.

“Rohingyas will never be accepted as citizens of India. They infiltrated India through Bangladesh. The came from Myanmar,” Shah said.

The Citizenship (Amendment) Bill seeks to provide Indian citizenship to non-Muslim refugees coming from Pakistan, Bangladesh and Afghanistan after facing religious persecution there.

The Home Minister said the Citizenship Bill will give relief and constitutional respect to those who have been living a painful life after facing persecution in neighbouring countries.

He dismissed the suggestions that the Bill is violative of Article 14 of the Constitution, which guarantees equality for everyone, as it aims to give citizenship to persecuted people only.

“This Bill is not unconstitutional and not in violation of Article 14 and has nothing to do with Muslims in India,” he said but made it clear that Rohingya Muslims, coming from Myanmar, will not be given Indian citizenship.

India has deported eight Rohingyas to Myanmar in two batches since the beginning of 2019.

The UN Human Rights Council had “urged the authorities to stop such forced deportations which are prohibited under international law”.

Human rights experts also voiced concerns over “the Indian legal and administrative processes for refugee status determination”.

New Delhi has, however, dismissed the concerns stating repatriation of illegal immigrants to the country of their origin was in accordance with the Indian law.

Meanwhile, Amit Shah in Lok Sabha further assured that the Centre will never touch Article 371.

“There is a difference between Article 370 and Article 371. Article 371 does not give flag to anyone. We will never touch Article 371. I am assuring this to the whole northeast region,” Amit Shah said.

After the Government abrogated Article 370 that granted special status to Jammu and Kashmir, Article 371, which has special provisions for other states, primarily from the northeast region, has gained attention.

Following a fiery debate that lasted over seven hours, the Lok Sabha passed the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill a little past midnight on Tuesday.

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.

(With agency inputs)