Lok Sabha Passes Citizenship (Amendment) Bill Amid Furore

Protests have intensified in Assam with a large section of people, civil organisations and students’ bodies opposing the Bill


The Lok Sabha on December 10th, 2019 passed the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill 2019, that seeks to provide Indian citizenship to non-Muslims from Bangladesh, Pakistan and Afghanistan. The Bill was tabled by Union Home Minister Amit Shah at 11:50 am on December 9th, 2019.

The introduction of the bill was vehemently objected by the opposition leaders. During the debate, AIMIM leader Asaduddin Owaisi tore a copy of the Bill.

The Bill was passed at 12:06 am with 311 votes in favour of it. 80 votes were against the Bill.

Responding to the oppostion leaders, Shah said that Rohingya Muslims will never be accepted in India. He also assured that Northeastern states will not be affected due to the Bill.

Participating in the debate, Shah said that whole of Arunachal Pradesh and Mizoram are protected under the Inner Line Permit (ILP). All of Nagaland, except a small part of Dimapur, is also protected under ILP, he said.

Shah also mentioned that Clause 6 of Assam Accord will be implemented in Assam.

Protests have intensified in Assam with a large section of people, civil organisations and students’ bodies opposing the Bill, saying it goes against the spirit of secularism and will nullify the provisions of the historic 1985 Assam Accord, which fixed March 24th, 1971, as the cut-off date to identify illegal foreigners.

The Bill aims to amend the six-decade-old Citizenship Act, 1955 and provide Indian citizenship to non-Muslim refugees from Bangladesh, Afghanistan and Pakistan who are presently facing hardships and difficulties in acquiring citizenships.

Under the provisions of the law, any person belonging to Hindu, Sikh, Buddhist, Jain, Parsi or Christian community from Afghanistan, Pakistan and Bangladesh who entered into the Indian territory on or before December 31st, 2014 and has been exempted by the Central Government by or under clause (c) of sub-section (2) of section 3 of the Passport (Entry into India) Act, 1920 or from the application of the provisions of the Foreigners Act, 1964, shall not be treated as illegal migrant.

Meanwhile, Chief Minister of Arunachal Pradesh Pema Khandu and Manipur Chief Minister N Biren Singh on December 9th, expressed their gratitude to Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Shah in regards to an exemption of both the Northeastern states from the purview of Bill.

As protest continues in Assam, Chief Minister Sarbananda Sonowal said a section has maligned the image of the state by spreading misinformation that only Assam will have to again bear the burden of illegal immigrants.

Photo: Time8