Rajya Sabha passes Citizenship Bill; Muslims in India are safe, says Amit Shah

Our Bureau New Delhi | Updated on December 11, 2019

Home Minister Amit Shah in the Rajya Sabha   -  PTI

Home Minister rubbishes Opposition charge that the Bill is unconstitutional

The Rajya Sabha, too, passed the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill on Wednesday, two days after the Lok Sabha cleared it.

The BJP once again proved its definitive edge in the Upper House as 125 MPs voted in favour of the Bill, while 105 voted against it. The Shiv Sena’s three members were not present at the time of voting. Amendments suggested by the Opposition to correct the alleged “communal and divisive approach” of the Bill were also defeated by the Upper House.

Defending the Bill, Home Minister Amit Shah said it will give justice to “crores of people belonging to minorities” who faced religious persecution in Pakistan, Afghanistan and Bangladesh. Hindus, Sikhs, Buddhists, Jains, Parsis and Christians who have sought asylum in India will be given citizenship according to the new amendment, he added.

Not against minorities

Shah further said the Bill will address the problems created by the Partition. He criticised the Congress for “not opposing” the Partition. The statements of leaders of the Congress and Pakistan sound similar on many occasions and issues, he added. This comment invited sharp protests and a brief ruckus inside the House. Earlier, moving the Bill, Shah said it is being portrayed as anti-minorities. “Muslims in this country have been the citizens of India and will remain citizens of India. But for whom are you (Opposition) expressing concerns? For Muslims of Pakistan, Bangladesh and Afghanistan? Do you want them to become Indian citizens? Should we make the Muslims from around the world our citizens?” he asked.

Citing the 1950 agreement between the then Prime Ministers of India and Pakistan, Jawaharlal Nehru and Liaquat Ali Khan, Shah said it was the duty of Pakistan to protect its minorities but a number of international reports confirmed that the religious minorities there faced persecution.

He also justified the decision to club the three countries in the Bill. In the past, too, amendments were brought to the Citizenship Act based on specific necessities, he pointed out. It is now the need of the hour to ensure justice to persecuted minorities in those three countries, he added.

Omission of Muslims

Justifying the omission of Muslims from the group, Shah said that as their state religion is Islam, Muslims will not face any persecution there. Replying to the examples given by the Opposition, that Muslims also face persecution, he said the Centre will consider the requests of Muslims from those countries also for citizenship. Over 565 Muslims of the three countries have been given citizenship by the Narendra Modi government in the last five years, he added.

He said there is provision in Article 14 of the Constitution for reasonable classification and the Centre has framed the law based on this. “It will not hurt any Articles of the Constitution,” he said. He reassured the Muslims in the country that they have nothing to worry. “We are not taking away the citizenship of anyone. Instead, we are giving citizenship to minorities from three countries,” he said.

Published on December 11, 2019

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