The Lok Sabha on Tuesday passed the contentious Lok Sabha Citizenship (Amendment) Bill 2019 that will provide Indian citizenship to non-Muslims from Bangladesh, Pakistan, and Afghanistan. The Bill was presented by the Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh and was passed amid huge uproar and dissent by several opposition parties.
Introducing the Bill, Rajnath Singh said the Bill will pave the way for Indian citizenship to the ‘persecuted religious minorities’ - the Hindus, Jains, Christians, Sikhs, Buddhists, and Parsis -from the three countries. "They have no place to go to, except India," he added.
Singh told the Opposition that the Bill was not against the provisions of the Constitution and would give succour to persecuted minorities in the three neighbouring countries.
"Such migrants can apply for citizenship now. The Centre can decide on their citizenship after getting necessary information," Singh said. He said the Bill not only applies to Assam but to the entire country and such migrants were in several other states.
"The responsibility is of the entire country. The burden of Assam is that of the entire country," he said.
"They have no place to go to, except India," he said, adding several leaders including first Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru were in favour of giving shelter to persecuted minorities in the neighboring countries.
The political parties, including those from the northeast, are of the view that the Bill would give nationality to illegal Hindus who came to Assam after March 1971 in violation of the agreement of the Assam Accord, 1985.
The Bill seeks to amend the Citizenship Act 1955 to grant Indian nationality to people from minority communities - Hindus, Sikhs, Buddhists, Jains, Parsis and Christians - from Afghanistan, Bangladesh and Pakistan after six years of residence in India instead of 12 even if they don't possess any proper document.