Home Minister Rajnath Singh in Lok Sabha
Home Minister Rajnath Singh in Lok Sabha

Amid protests, Lok Sabha passes bill to grant citizenship to certain minorities of Afghanistan, Bangladesh and Pakistan

ANI | Updated: Jan 08, 2019 20:23 IST

New Delhi, Jan 8 (ANI) A contentious bill seeking to accord Indian citizenship to certain minority community refugees from Pakistan, Bangladesh and Afghanistan was passed by the Lok Sabha on Tuesday amid strong objections by some Opposition parties and a shutdown in the North Eastern parts of the country.
Home Minister Rajnath Singh, who piloted the Citizenship Amendment Bill, 2019 in the Lower House of Parliament, sought to dispel any misgivings regarding the proposed legislation, saying its ambit will not be confined to Assam, where various political parties are strongly opposing it.
With the NDA pushing the proposed legislation, its ally Asom Gana Parishad (AGP) quit the coalition yesterday to protest the move.
On Tuesday, a shutdown was observed in Assam and other parts of North East to protest the bill which seeks to amend an Act of 1955.
In the Lok Sabha, the Home Minister said the burden of these persecuted migrants will not be shared by Assam alone but by the entire country.
"The Government of India is committed to give all help to the state government and people of Assam," Singh said while replying to a debate in the Lok Sabha.
The proposed legislation will apply to all states and union territories of the country and the beneficiaries of the can reside in any state of the country, he said.
Singh said the proposed legislation will provide relief to persecuted migrants who have come through western borders of the country to States like Gujarat, Rajasthan, Delhi, Madhya Pradesh, and other states.
The Bill, which seeks to amend an Act of 1955, will benefit six identified minority communities namely Hindus, Sikhs, Jains, Buddhists, Christians and Parsis from Afghanistan, Pakistan and Bangladesh who came to India before 31 December 2014.
Under the proposed amendments, the minimum residency period for citizenship is being reduced from the existing 12 years under the present law to 7 years. However, citizenship will be given to them only after due scrutiny and recommendation of district authorities and the state government.
"I want to clarify that the Citizenship Amendment Bill is not for Assam alone or for the betterment of migrants coming from a particular country. This Bill is also for migrants who have come from the Western borders and have settled down in Rajasthan, Punjab, Delhi, and Rajasthan," Singh said.
The Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) had notified on 5 January a High-Level Committee consisting of eminent and knowledgeable persons from Assamese society with a very wide mandate to suggest such safeguards for the protection of the Assamese identity, including reservation in the State Assembly and in jobs. The Committee will submit its report within six months.
With regards to the National Register of Citizens (NRC), Singh said no discrimination will be made. All the necessary steps will be taken to deal with illegal migrants," he added. (ANI)