The Parliament, on the evening of the 9th of December, passed the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill (CAB,) 2019. The Bill was passed based on the votes of the Members of Parliament (MPs) in the Lok Sabha. A total of 311 MPs supported the Bill, whereas 80 opposed it.
According to the CAB, individuals who are Sikhs, Hindus, Jains, Buddhists, Christians or Parsis from countries like Afghanistan, Bangladesh and Pakistan, would get Indian citizenship.
Amit Shah, the Home Minister of India, tabled the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill, 2019. Mr. Shah said the Bill would be a relief to the refugees from neighbouring countries like Bangladesh, Pakistan and Afghanistan, who were being ill treated due to their religious beliefs.
Though the Bill passed in the Lower House, the Indian National Congress (INC,) the All India Majlis e Ittehadul Muslimeen (AIMIM,) the Trinamool Congress (TMC) and the Revolutionary Socialist Party opposed the Bill, stating it violates the provisions of the Indian Constitution.
Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury, Saugata Roy, N.K. Premachandran, Gaurav Gogoi, Shashi Tharoor and Asaduddin Owaisi believe the CAB violates various provisions of the Constitution of India. They said the Bill, which grants citizenship based on religion itself, is a violation of the ideals of the Constitution of India.
However, Amit Shah defended the Bill and highlighted the reign of the INC, wherein the Party divided India based on religion. He said the Bill would be a step to include people who are being persecuted in neighbouring countries and it does not violate any provision of the Constitution.
Amit Shah said, “We will have to differentiate between intruders and refugees. The Citizenship Amendment Bill does not discriminate against anyone and does not snatch anyone’s rights.”
When asked about the northeastern states protesting against the Bill, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) assured them the Bill would not be applicable in the regions of Assam, Manipur, Meghalaya, Mizoram, Arunachal Pradesh and Tripura.
The northeastern states were protesting against the Bill as they were concerned about their tradition and culture as well as the Assam Accord signed between the student bodies and the Central Government in 1985. According to the Assam Accord, illegal migrants should be identified and deported from the State irrespective of their religion.
The Lok Sabha MPs also discussed another issue regarding the Bill. The MPs said the Bill could affect the Muslims in India. AIMIM President Asaduddin Owaisi claimed the Bill is anti Muslim. Similarly, Priya Sule, a member of the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP,) also said the Citizenship Bill may create a communal issue amongst Muslims. She said she is not against the Bill but suggests the Muslim community be included as well. The Yuvajana Sramika Rythu Congress Party (YSRCP) also agreed with Ms. Sule.
Amit Shah, clarifying about the Bill affecting the Muslims, said, “This Bill is not even 0.001% against Muslims. It is against infiltrators.”
In support of Mr. Shah, a BJP MP, said one cannot ignore the ill treatment faced by individuals of these communities based on their religious beliefs.
Despite divided thoughts and ideas, the Bill passed in the Lok Sabha and is all set to be tabled in the Rajya Sabha. This is not the first time the BJP tried to introduce the Bill. In January 2019, the BJP tabled the Citizenship Bill and it was passed in the Lok Sabha, but it lapsed in the Rajya Sabha.
On the 11th of December, the BJP led Central Government would present the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill, 2019, in the Rajya Sabha.
Stay tuned for further updates.