The contentious Citizenship (Amendment) Bill was passed by the Union Cabinet on Wednesday. (Photo Credit: File Photo: PTI)
The contentious Citizenship (Amendment) Bill was cleared by the Union Cabinet on Wednesday. A bill to amend the the Citizenship Act, 1955, is likely to be introduced in the Parliament in the next two days, the sources said. The amendment in the bill is in order to grant Indian nationality to Hindus, Sikhs, Buddhists, Jains, Parsis and Christians who come to India after facing religious persecution in Bangladesh, Pakistan and Afghanistan even if they don't possess proper documents.
On Tuesday, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) underscored the significance of the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill by equating its importance with the move to nullify Article 370 provisions, with senior leader Rajnath Singh asking party MPs to be present in large numbers when Home Minister Amit Shah tables it in Parliament.
The BJP-led NDA government had introduced the bill in its previous tenure as well but could not push it through due to vehement protests by opposition parties, which criticised the bill as discriminatory on religious grounds.
The bill had lapsed following the dissolution of the last Lok Sabha.
There has been opposition to the bill in Assam and other Northeastern states.
Student organisations, political parties and socio-cultural bodies have been protesting on the grounds that it seeks to grant nationality to non-Muslims, mostly Hindus, who have come into India up to December 31, 2014, thereby increasing the deadline from 1971 as per the Assam Accord.
The BJP and its Hindutva affiliates have insisted that minorities, of whom Hindus are in overwhelming numbers, from these countries should be granted Indian citizenship.
Last week, Union Home Minister Amit Shah held discussions with leaders of political parties, students bodies and civil society groups of Assam, Arunachal Pradesh and Meghalaya on the contours of the proposed Citizenship Amendment Bill (CAB), sources said.
The meetings were attended by chief ministers of Assam, Arunachal Pradesh and Meghalaya Sarbananda Sonowal, Pema Khandu and Conrad Sangma respectively, Union minister Kiren Rijiju and several MPs among others.
Assam minister Himanta Biswa Sarma on Saturday said Shah met political parties and civil society members of Tripura and Mizoram for four hours on Friday night and things were moving in the right direction.