The Cabinet has approved Citizenship Amendment Bill (2016) in the Lok Sabha on January 7. The bill now grants Indian citizenship by naturalisation to communities such as Hindus, Buddhists, Christians, Jains, Parsis and Sikhs, fleeing persecution in Afghanistan, Bangladesh and Pakistan. Citizenship would be granted to those who have lived in India for six or more years. The government had argued that the bill is intended to those 'escaping persecution' and not for economic migrants.
The Congress, TMC, CPI(M) and a few other parties were steadfastly opposing the bill claiming citizenship cannot be given on basis of religion, as India is secular.
“If the bill in its present form comes into effect, then it will nullify the Assam Accord under which anyone entering the state illegally after March 1971 should be declared a foreigner and deported, ”an opposition MP had said.
Besides Opposition parties, Bharatiya Janata Party’s allies Shiv Sena and JD(U) had also stated that they would oppose the Bill in Parliament. The decision was taken after the Asom Gana Parishad appealed to the Shiv Sena to oppose the legislation, party leader Sanjay Raut said in a statement.
”We are determined to oppose the Citizenship Amendment Bill 2016 in Parliament,” Shiv Sena's Raut had said.
Meanwhile, a large section of people and organisations in the Northeast had also opposed the bill, saying it will nullify provisions of the 1985 Assam Accord, which fixed March 24, 1971, as the cut-off date for deportation of illegal immigrants irrespective of religion Even Meghalaya and Mizoram governments have strongly opposed the bill and adopted resolutions against it.
About the bill:
The bill seeks to amend the Citizenship Act, 1955, to grant Indian nationality to people belonging to minority communities — Hindus, Sikhs, Buddhists, Jains, Parsis and Christians — in Afghanistan, Bangladesh and Pakistan after six years of residence in India instead of 12, even if they don’t possess any proper document.
While speaking in Silchar, Assam on Friday, Prime Minister Narendra Modi reiterated the Centre’s commitment to pass the Citizenship Amendment Bill. “The Citizenship Bill is an atonement of the wrong that was done during India’s partition. I hope this bill is passed soon in Parliament. India will safeguard all who had been victims of partition,” he said.