Tribune News Service
New Delhi, December 4
The contentious citizenship Bill that has created strong resentment in the north-eastern states and is being slammed as “communal” and “divisive” by Opposition parties is set to be tabled in Parliament with the Union Cabinet on Wednesday giving its clearance to the draft law.
The Citizenship (Amendment) Bill or CAB seeks to amend the Citizenship Act of 1955 to grant citizenship to non-Muslim refugees, primarily Hindus, Sikhs, Jains, Buddhists, Parsis and Christians, from Pakistan, Bangladesh and Afghanistan who came to India on or before December 31, 2014, after facing, or amid fear of, religious persecution in their respective countries. At a Cabinet meeting briefing, Union Minister Prakash Javadekar said the Bill had been cleared and would be discussed once it was tabled in Parliament. Asked whether the concerns of the north-eastern states had been taken care of, Javadekar said, “The Bill protects the interests of all individuals and groups and also the interest of India. People will welcome it.”
Key Opposition parties such as the Congress and the Trinamool Congress have criticised the Bill. Congress MP from Thiruvananthapuram Shashi Tharoor said the Bill “violated the basic idea of India that religion could never be a reason for citizenship”.
“Those who believe that religion should determine nationhood... that was the idea of Pakistan, they created Pakistan. We have always argued that our idea of nation was what Mahatma Gandhi, Nehruji, Maulana Azad, Dr Ambedkar have said — that religion cannot determine nationhood,” said Tharoor.
Veteran Congress leader and three-time Assam Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi said they would move the Supreme Court against the CAB, which was “unconstitutional” and “divisive”. “The Congress will move the SC because we believe that CAB is unconstitutional and against the spirit of secularism. It is divisive and violates the constitutional provision — equality for all.
There cannot be division on basis of religion, caste or creed,” he tweeted.
Union Minister Rajnath Singh had, at a BJP parliamentary party meeting yesterday, asked party MPs to be present in large numbers in Parliament when Home Minister Amit Shah tabled the Citizenship Amendment Bill.
The Cabinet approval was crucial as the BJP has been advocating a nationwide National Register of Citizens (NRC) exercise before the 2024 Lok Sabha polls. The Opposition has opposed both the Bill and the countrywide NRC.
On Tuesday, Shah met various stakeholders from the north-eastern states to understand their concerns over the proposed law.
The Bill is a drastic shift from the provisions of the Citizenship Act of 1955 that labels a person an “illegal immigrant” if he or she has entered India without travel documents or has overstayed the date specified in the documents. The amendment Bill, however, is expected to face stiff resistance from Opposition parties and members in the Rajya Sabha may push for referring it to a select committee before it is discussed.
About the amendment
Seeks to provide citizenship to non-Muslims, primarily Hindus, Sikhs, Jains, Buddhists, Parsis and Christians, from Pakistan, Bangladesh and Afghanistan facing religious persecution in home nations
Guards India interest
Bill protects interests of all individuals, groups... and of India. Prakash Javadekar, union minister
Against idea of India
Violates basic idea of India that religion can’t be basis for citizenship. Shashi Tharoor, cong mp
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