The Citizenship (Amendment) Bill was passed in the Lok Sabha on Monday night after a daylong discussion and heated debates between Amit Shah and opposition MPs. The amendment bill is yet to be approved by Rajya Sabha, which seems not so difficult for the current BJP led government.
What is the Citizenship Amendment Bill 2019?
It proposes granting Indian citizenship to the oppressed minorities such as Hindus, Jains, Christians, Sikhs, Buddhists and Parsis who fleed from Bangladesh, Pakistan and Afghanistan. The Bill doesn’t mention Muslim refugees, but the government proposed to take exceptional cases under consideration.
This Bill seeks to revise the definition of an illegal settler for the above-said community’s immigrants from Pakistan, Afghanistan and Bangladesh, who have lived in India without documentation. Such migrants will be granted fast-track Indian citizenship in six years. So far, 12 years of residence has been the standard eligibility condition for naturalisation.
Who all are eligible?
The proposed legislation pertains to those who were forced or compelled to seek shelter in India due to persecution based on the religion they follow. It aims to protect such people from proceedings of illegal migration. The cut-off date for citizenship is December 31, 2014, which means the appellant should have entered India on or before that date. Currently, Indian citizenship as the law states – ‘those born in India or those who have resided in the country for a minimum of 11 years’. The Bill also proposes to incorporate a sub-section (d) to Section 7, providing for repeal of Overseas Citizen of India (OCI) registration where the OCI card-holder has violated any stipulation of the Citizenship Act or any other law in force.
The logic behind the Amendment Bill as per government.
According to the Centre, these minority groups have come to India fleeing persecution from Muslim-majority nations.
However, it is inconsistent – as the Amendment Bill doesn’t protect all religious minorities neither does it apply to all neighbouring countries. If we look at Ahmedia Muslim section and even Shias have faced discrimination in Pakistan; Rohingya Muslims and Hindus faced unfairness in Burma; Hindus and Christian Tamils also have to undergo similar persecutions in Sri Lanka. The government stated that the Muslims could seek refuge in Islamic nations, but maintained silent for other questions raised.
Is CAB similar to NRC?
The National Register of Citizens (NRC) that was introduced in Assam to identify native Indian citizens from those of illegal immigrants. A person had to prove that either they or their ancestors were in Assam on or before the midnight of March 24, 1971. Unlike CAB, NRC which may in future extend to the throughout the nation is not based on religion.
For better understanding, watch the below video:
Why Are People Protesting?
The CAB limits Muslim citizenship by declaring India a welcome refuge to all other religious communities. As per the protesters, this is an attempt to legally establish Muslims as second-class citizens of India by providing special treatment to other categories and is a violation of the Constitution’s Article 14, the fundamental right to equality to all persons. Any Parliament cannot reshape this basic structure of the Constitution. The general concern of the people is that CAB is trying to discriminate the human rights of the Muslim community given by the Constitution.
As per the central government, it states that they have not violated or discriminated the right to equality. Home Minister Amit Shah stated that CAB wouldn’t have been necessary if the Congress did not agree for partition based on religion.
If we look, the foundation of independent India was not based on any particular religion while Pakistan was. India is known for its ideology of “Vasudev Kutumbkam – the world is one family”, and even the constitution was laid on the principle of secularism but this discrimination with the immigrant Muslim community is not what the idea of India stands for. India has been a secular nation, and we believe that everyone should have equal rights irrespective of his/her faith.
But we will have to wait and see how this Amendment Bill will affect the unity of our nation.