Amid ruckus and anti-government chants, Union Home Amit Shah tabled the contentious Citizenship Amendment Bill, 2019 in the Lok Sabha on Monday. Senior Congress leader Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury led the attack against the government and said that, “Citizenship Amendment Bill is nothing but a targeted legislation over minority people of our country". However, the Union Home Minister hit back and said that, “this Bill is not even .001% against minorities in the country". The draft legislation seeks to give Indian nationality to non-Muslim refugees from Pakistan, Bangladesh and Afghanistan facing religious persecution there. According to the proposed legislation, members of Hindu, Sikh, Buddhist, Jain, Parsi and Christian communities, who have come from Pakistan, Bangladesh and Afghanistan, till December 31, 2014 and facing religious persecution there will not be treated as illegal immigrants but given Indian citizenship.
The Citizenship Amendment Bill, which proposes to ease the citizenship process for non-Muslim illegal immigrants, will not be applicable on almost entire North-East.
Key opposition parties like the Congress and Trinamool Congress have severely criticised the bill. Congress’s Shashi Tharoor said it violates the basic idea of India that religion can 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, Maluana Azad, Dr Ambedkar have said, that religion cannot determine nationhood,” Tharoor told reporters in Parliament premises.
“Ours is a country for everybody and everybody, irrespective of religion, has equal rights in this country, and the Constitution that they wrote reflected that. Today, this bill undermines this fundamental tenet of the Constitution,” he added.
The draft legislation is expected to sail through Lok Sabha, where the BJP has a big majority, and is unlikely to face serious hurdles in Rajya Sabha as well as the ruling party has often managed the support of parties like the BJD, TRS and YSR Congress for its flagship agenda.