Presenting the Citizenship Amendment Bill, India’s Home Affairs Minister Amit Shah said that while no where does this bill target India’s minority community, but illegal immigrants would not be allowed to stay in the country at any cost.
Misconceptions are being spread about the bill that it is against any particular community, but this is a humanitarian step to grant citizenship to those who suffered for the last 70 years, the minister said.
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The Citizenship Amendment Bill seeks to grant Indian Citizenship to persons belonging to Hindu, Sikh, Buddhist, Jain, Parsi and Christian communities who have migrated to India after facing persecution on grounds of religion in Pakistan, Afghanistan and Bangladesh, if they fulfil conditions for grant of citizenship.
According to Home Affairs Minister’s statement, the provisions of the amendments to the Act would not apply to tribal area of Assam, Meghalaya, Mizoram or Tripura as included in the Sixth Schedule to the Constitution and the area covered under ‘The Inner Line’ notified under the Bengal Eastern Frontier Regulation, 1873.
The Bill also seeks to amend the Third Schedule to the Act to make applicants belonging to the said communities from the aforesaid countries eligible for citizenship by naturalisation if they can establish their residency in India for five years instead of the existing eleven years.
Making an important announcement, the minister said that Manipur would be brought under the Inner Line Permit (ILP) regime and with that the problems of all the North Eastern States would be taken care of.
He said, all the apprehensions of the North-Eastern States and that of Sikkim were addressed in the Bill and that is the reason they are supporting this Bill.
Failure of the Nehru-Liaqat pact of 1950 is also one of the reasons of bringing about this Bill, said Amit Shah.
It was Congress Party which accepted the partition of India on religious ground and therefore the need for the Bill was necessitated, the minister said.
He also said that there is no political agenda behind this Bill but it is only a Constitutional process to give citizenship to those were denied basic civil rights for the last 70 years.
He cited the provisions from Constitutions of Afghanistan, Pakistan and Bangladesh where they provide for a specific state religion.
In this scenario, Shah stated that these countries have had a history of persecution of religious Minorities viz., Hindus, Sikhs, Buddhists, Jains, Parsis and Christians. Some of them also have fears about such persecution in their day-to-day life where right to practice, profess and propagate their religion has been obstructed and restricted.
Many such persons have fled to India to seek shelter and continued to stay in India even if their travel documents have expired or they have incomplete or no documents, he added.
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