National

Congress leads protests in LS against Citizenship Bill

Our Bureau New Delhi | Updated on December 09, 2019 Published on December 09, 2019

Home Minister Amit Shah speaking on the Citizenship Bill in the Lok Sabha on Monday   -  -

Opposition dubs Bill unconstitutional; Govt will get it thru‘ Lower House, going by support it managed at introduction

The contentious Citizenship (Amendment) Bill came in for strenuous opposition even from the introduction stage on grounds of being ultra vires of the Constitution as it violates fundamental rights and discriminates on grounds of religion for grant of citizenship in India.

But the overwhelming majority with which the ruling alliance defeated the motion against the introduction of the Bill was indicative of the inevitability of its passage in the Lower House, where the Shiv Sena, which has just walked out of the NDA, supported the introduction of the Bill.

Other parties, which had earlier opposed the Bill such as the Janata Dal (United), also came around to supporting it, as did the BJD, the YSR Congress Party, and the AIADMK.

Home Minister Amit Shah said the Bill would not have been needed had the “Congress not allowed Partition on the basis of religion”.

Congress contention

Speakers from the Congress — chiefly Shashi Tharoor, Manish Tiwari and Adhir Ranjan Chaudhury — asserted that the Bill validates the two-nation theory that led to the creation of Pakistan.

“Those who believe religion should determine nationhood, that was the idea of Pakistan… The Bill endorses the idea of religious discrimination by allowing individuals of only six religious identities to acquire citizenship while excluding the individuals belonging to other religious identities,” said Tharoor.

The Home Minister, on his part, asserted that the Bill “is nowhere, not even .001 per cent, against minorities in this country”.

The most critical part of the proposed law pertains to inserting a provision in Section 2 of the Citizenship Act, 1952 to change the definition of “illegal immigrant” to include persons belonging to Hindu, Sikh, Buddhist, Jain, Parsi and Christian communities from Afghanistan, Pakistan and Bangladesh.

The Bill excludes areas in the North-Eastern parts covered by the Inner Line Permit regime and the areas under the Sixth Schedule.

Shah addressed protesters in Assam on Monday and at places where the influential North-East Students Organisation has announced a shutdown on Tuesday and said, “I just want to tell the people that all objections posed by the North-Eastern States have been addressed in the Bill. There is no reason to get excited,” he said, pointing out that while Nagaland and Mizoram remain protected by the Inner Line Permit, Manipur has been excluded in view of the people’s objections to the proposed Bill.

Protests have been staged in Assam against the Bill, where protesters claimed that the Bill violates the Assam Accord of August 15, 1985 that protects the socio-cultural and linguistic identity of the Assamese through the insertion of Section 6A in the principal Act.

The Bill proposes to legalise minority migrants who entered Assam till December 31, 2014 as opposed to the cut-off date of March 25, 1971 under the Assam Accord.

 

Published on December 09, 2019
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