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The Citizenship Act of 1955 stands amended. The Citizenship Amendment Bill was passed in the Rajya Sabha today by 125-105 votes. It had cleared the Lok Sabha yesterday by 311-80 votes. Hindus, Sikhs, Christians, Jains, Buddhists and Parsis from Pakistan, Bangladesh and Afghanistan who entered India before 2014 and stayed put in this country are now Indian citizens even if those in Assam could not make it to the final list of the NRC on 31 August this year.

The law accepts as Indian citizens those non-Muslims who came to India as refugees from Pakistan, Bangladesh and Afghanistan till 31 December 2014. Subsequent foreign non-Muslim seekers of Indian citizenship will have to apply for it.

Now this bill will be sent for the approval of the President, after which it will take the form of law.

Earlier, INC’s Rajya Sabha MP Kapil Sibal had said that the principle of two-nation was not Indian but that of Veer Savarkar alone. He said. “I urge the home minister to withdraw his charge.”

Sibal opposed the bill saying that it gave constitutional status to the two-nation theory. The bill makes religion the basis for citizenship, he alleged. The INC MP said, “I do not understand which history books have been read by Home Minister Amit Shah. The doctrine of two-nation is not ours. It was introduced by Savarkar.” Sibal said the Congress does not trust such an idea and Amit Shah should withdraw his remarks.

Responding to the misgivings of the opposition, Union Home Minister Amit Shah said, addressing INC’s Kapil Sibal and Anand Sharma, “Hindu-Sikh girls are forcibly converted in Pakistan. Similar crimes were done against minorities in Afghanistan, too.”

The statements of leaders of Pakistan and Congress on Article 370, Airstrike, Kashmir and Citizenship Amendment Bill are the same, Shah said. “The statements of Congress leaders were quoted by Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan in the UN,” he added.

“The statement made by Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan yesterday and the statements made by the Congress leaders in the House today are similar,” the home minister said, adding that the statements of INC leaders and the statements of leaders of Pakistan mix many times.

Assuring the people of Assam, Shah said, “We will fully follow the Assam Accord. It is our duty to protect the culture of Assam and we will fulfil it.”

“Modi government trusts the Constitution of the country and I assure you that this country will never be Muslim-free,” Shah said, allaying the fears of the largest minority community in India.

The CAB was part of the 2014 and 2019 manifestos of the BJP. “It is the duty of the government of any country to protect borders, prevent intruders, identify refugees and intruders. Which is a country which has not made a law to give citizenship to people outside?” Shah had asked in the Lower House yesterday, adding, “We have made such a law. We have made a provision of single citizenship.”

Reacting with pleasure to the passing of the bill in Parliament, Shahnawaz Hussain, a prominent Muslim face of the ruling BJP, said, “This is not a law against Indian Muslims who are being misled by vested interests. This was a bill to give justice to the thousands of persecuted minorities of Pakistan, Afghanistan and Bangladesh.”

After the passing of the Citizenship Amendment Bill in the Rajya Sabha, the proceedings of the House were adjourned till 11 PM on Thursday 12 December.

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