Home minister Amit Shah introduces the bill after a division of votes
GN Bureau | December 9, 2019
Home minister Amit Shah on Monday introduced in the Lok Sabha the Citizenship Amendment Bill, triggering a long-ranging debate on the ideas of India, with the opposition parties claiming it was regressive.
The bill seeks to grant citizenship to non-Muslim citizens of the neighbouring Pakistan, Afghanistan and Bangladesh who wanted to escape religious persecution in those countries.
While the matter is broadly seen on communal lines, the northeast, however, had its own worries about the bill, which could pave the way for influx of refugees especially in that region, notwithstanding their religion. Some of the northeastern states have witnessed protests against it. The home minister clarified that the government was fully committed to protect the culture and identity of the region and urged the people of the states not to protest against it.
While the opposition criticized the move for making religion the basis of citizenship, Shah claimed the bill was not even “0.001 percent” against the minorities of the country. He went on to blame the Congress for the partition, on which Manish Tewari of that party alleged that the seeds of the “two-nation theory” were sown by V.D. Savarkar’s Hindutva views.
Trinamul Congress termed the bill unconstitutional and divisive. CPM also claimed it was aimed to establish racial supremacy in India. TRS too was among those against it. On the other hand, JD(U) and Lok Janshakti Party supported the bill, maintaining that it was not against the idea of secularism. Biju Janata Dal, meanwhile, has promised to support the bill.
Meenakshi Lekhi of the BJP defended the legislation saying that the objective was to offer protection to “our people” who were denied their rights after the Partition.
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