The Union Cabinet on Wednesday approved the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill that seeks to grant citizenship to non-Muslim refugees from Pakistan, Bangladesh and Afghanistan if they faced religious persecution in these neighbouring countries.

A bill to amend the Citizenship Act, 1955, is likely to be introduced in the Parliament next week.

The Citizenship (Amendment) Bill aims to provide Indian citizenship to the Hindus, Jains, Christians, Sikhs, Buddhists and Parsis from the three mentioned countries.

If the bill is passed in the Parliament, it will amend the Citizenship Act, 1955 that requires applicants to have resided in India for 11 of the previous 14 years. The amendment seeks to relax this requirement from 11 years to 6 years.

Union minister Rajnath Singh had on Tuesday asked BJP MPs to be present in large numbers in the Parliament when Home Minister Amit Shah tables the bill in Parliament, as he asserted that this draft legislation is as important as the move to abrogate Article 370.

Meanwhile, Union Home Minister Amit Shah had on Monday said that all infiltrators in the country would be extradited by 2024 by implementing the National Register of Citizens (NRC).

Shah was addressing a rally for the ongoing assembly election in Jharkhand.

Earlier on Saturday, Amit Shah held discussions over the proposed Citizenship Amendment Bill (CAB) with Chief Ministers of Northeast states and members of the civil society groups.

The CAB has drawn opposition from various quarters, especially from Northeast leaders.

In Assam, the proposed amendment has raised concern as the local leaders believe it will nullify the 1985 Assam Accord, which set March 24, 1971, as the cut-off date for identification and deportation of illegal immigrants irrespective of religion.

Mizoram leaders are opposing the CAB on the ground that it would make Buddhist Chakma refugees Indian citizens. Even people from Tripura and Arunachal Pradesh have opposed the proposed legislation.

Opposition parties are opposing the bill saying the Constitution doesn’t allow granting of citizenship on the basis of religion.

(With agency inputs)