Cabinet Clears Contentious Citizenship Amendment Bill: All You Need To Know About Proposed Changes
The Union Cabinet on December 4, Wednesday, gave their nod to the proposed amendments to the Citizenship Act 1955. The contentious Citizenship Amendment Bill will now be taken up by the Parliament for discussion next week.
Speaking on the cabinet’s decision to clear the Citizenship Amendment Bill, Congress MP Shashi Tharoor said, “I am opposed to the Bill. It is fundamentally against the tenets of democracy. I speak for myself. We cannot discriminate on the basis of religion.”
Main Amendments To The Citizenship Bill
The Citizenship Act, 1955, has been amended with certain clauses that safeguard the rights and identify all the Non-Muslim refugees, who sought shelter in India, to claim Indian citizenship. The bill also relaxes the prerequisite of being a resident of India from 11 years to 6 years for the Non-Muslim migrants.
The cabinet justified the move stating the need to shelter minority refugees from Pakistan, Bangladesh, and Afghanistan. This includes refugees from minority communities like Hindu, Jain, Buddhist, Sikhs, Parsi or Christian.
The proposed amendments open the doors for the persecuted minorities from the three Muslim majority countries into India.
The decision was taken in a high-end meeting of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) held to discuss NRC and Citizenship on December 3, Tuesday.
The amendment excludes persecuted Muslim minorities from Nepal and Sri Lanka from its privy.
Speaking on the issue, Defence Minister Rajnath Singh said that the three neighbouring countries were essentially Islamic nations and so it is non-Muslims who are at the receiving end of religious persecution.
The Political Hubbub Around The Citizenship Act
Sifting through the BJP’s 2014 election manifesto, one finds a promise made to the Indians by Narendra Modi that Hindu refugees will be given protection and shelter by India. Later a welcome hand was extended to all the religious communities except Muslims.
After ascending to power, the BJP introduced the Citizenship Amendment Bill in Lok Sabha in July 2016. It was then referred to the Joint Parliamentary Committee in August 2016. The Bill was passed in the Lok Sabha in January 2019, but it lapsed after the Lok Sabha term ended in June 2019.
The bill has become a bone of contention especially for the North-eastern states as millions of people have to go through a tedious procedure to prove that they belong to India. The first phase of National Register of Citizens (NRC) in September excluded around 19 lakh Assamese from the right to citizenship.
Amit Shah on Saturday held talks with leaders of different political parties, student bodies and civil society groups of Assam, Arunachal Pradesh and Meghalaya on the proposed Citizenship Amendment Bill (CAB) and listened to their concerns.
Two days before giving the nod to the Citizenship Bill, Amit Shah set the 2024 deadline for the implementation of the National Register of Citizens (NRC) across the country.
Amit Shah reiterated that the government would expel all the infiltrators before the next Lok Sabha elections which are scheduled for 2024.