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Wednesday 29 January 2020

Citizenship Amendment Bill in Parliament on Monday?

With the citizenship amendment bill, the government wishes to rectify the errors and omissions of the NRC that excluded nearly 20 lakh people in Assam

The aggressive BJP-led NDA government at the Centre began working on a Citizenship Amendment Bill once the final list of the National Register of Citizens (NRC) did not yield expected results on 31 August, Sirf News has learnt. According to sources, this bill can be introduced by the government for approval in the Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha in the winter session of Parliament that starts Monday.

The draft law proposes to change the Citizenship Act of 1955 under the Civil Amendment Bill. This will grant citizenship to Hindus, Sikhs, Buddhists, Jains, Parsis and Christians who fled persecution in the Islamic states of Pakistan, Bangladesh and Afghanistan and sought asylum in India.

Citizenship will be given to those people of the aforesaid communities, provided they migrated to India in the past one to six years. As of now, the minimum period a refugee must spend in India to obtain citizenship is 11 years.

The Narendra Modi government’s initiative follows the development of 31 August when it was found that out of a total of 3,30,27,661 people who had applied to be included in the NRC, only 3,11,21,004 had been included in the document and 19,06,657 had been excluded. Those who have been excluded from the final NRC for Assam had 120 days to appeal against it at Foreigners Tribunals.

The Assam government has already ruled out detention of people who do not figure in the list “in any circumstances” till the time Foreigners Tribunals declare them foreigners. The State government has appealed to the people to maintain calm and not panic.

Union Home Minister Amit Shah had said on 1 October that he wanted to bring the bill before the National Register of Citizens came into force in Assam to provide relief to non-Muslims who did not get enlisted in the NRC and will be considered citizens of India.

Speaking at a function in Kolkata, the home minister had said, “People of Bengal were misled on NRC. I have come to tell the truth to the people of Bengal. All Hindu refugees will be given Indian citizenship. The Modi government will soon re-introduce the Citizenship Amendment Bill. After this, every refugee will get the same rights as me. Not a single intruder will be allowed to stay in the country. The BJP government is going to give every refugee the right to become Prime Minister.”

The bill is expected to meet with some stiff resistance from the opposition. Several opposition parties, including the Congress, have opposed the government’s proposal, saying that the bill violated the Constitution that does not permit a religion-based grant of citizenship. The opposition says it is in violation of article 14 of the constitution, which speaks of religious equality.

However, the opposition has not yet found a counter to the argument that Muslims do not have the reason or excuse of persecution to flee from the surrounding Islamic countries and seek shelter in India.

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