Replying to a marathon debate on the Citizenship Amendment Bill in Rajya Sabha, Home Minister Amit Shah rejected the Opposition charge that the bill was against Muslims and said they have nothing to fear. Shah said the legislation seeks to provide citizenship to persecuted minorities in the three countries and not take away citizenship of anyone. The Bill was passed with 125 votes in favour and 99 against it. The Bill was passed by Lok Sabha on Monday. It will now go to the President for his assent.
Here are the top highlights of Amit Shah's speech:
1. Indian Muslims are citizens of the country and will remain so, he said. Citizenship of Indian Muslims is not being taken away. "Citizenship bill is not to snatch anyone's Indian citizenship. Muslims have no need to fear or worry," he said.
2. Amit Shah said that the Bill has been brought to rectify a historic blunder — the Partition — and give a dignified life to non-Muslims of Pakistan, Bangladesh and Afghanistan, who fled religious persecution and settled in India before 31 December, 2014.
3. To repeated questions from opposition of Muslims being left out, he said Muslims from other countries have the right to apply for Indian citizenship as per existing rules. As many as 566 Muslims have been given citizenship, he said. Muslims have not been included for giving citizenship because the proposed law is for persecuted minorities in the three countries, he said.
4. On why persecuted minorities from countries such as Sri Lanka were not part of the legislation, Amit Shah said Tamils from the island country had been given Indian citizenship in past and the present law is to tackle a specific problem
5. Amit Shah attacked opposition the Congress saying statements by the party's leaders match those of Pakistani leaders on not just the citizenship bill but also on scrapping of Article 370.
6. Asserting that neither the citizenship bill, nor the previously passed legislation making practice of triple talaq punishable and the scrapping Article 370 are anti-Muslim, he said the present legislation is to give citizenship and does not to take away citizenship of anyone.
7. Amit Shah said the bill seeks to correct the wrong done by the partition of the country on religious lines. He went on to attack the Congress for alleged double speak on the issue, saying the party had during its rule given Indian citizenship to 13,000 Hindus and Sikhs from Pakistan without raising a word about the same for other communities.
8. Amit Shah also said the bill does not violate Article 14 of the Constitution as it does not prohibit laws based on reasonable classification.
9. Amit Shah hit out at Kapil Sibal, saying the Congress leader should not teach him the idea of India. "My seven generations have been born here. I have not come from abroad. We were born here, we shall die here. Don't teach us the idea of India," he said.
10. Rebutting the charge that Muslims were living in fear, he said India not only fulfilled its promise of protecting minorities, Muslims have gone on to become President, Vice President and Election Commissioner in the country.