By The Statesman/Asia News Network
Amid raging protests, the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill 2019 was passed after a fierce debate in the Rajya Sabha with 125 votes in support while 105 against in the strength of 230 members. The majority mark in the House was 116.
Union Home Minister and Member of Rajya Sabha Amit Shah, while answering the queries raised by the members of the House on the controversial Citizenship (Amendment) Bill 2019 on Wednesday, assured that the “Bill is not anti-Muslim and Indian Muslims need not worry about anything”.
Shah said that there would have been no need for this Bill if the country would not have been divided in 1947. This Bill will bring a solution to the issues related to citizenship that aroused after the partition.
Earlier, in reply to Home Minister’s response that no Muslim in India needs to worry about their citizenship due to this Bill, senior Congress leader Kapil Sibal said that there is no Muslim who fears him (Amit Shah).
“You made an objectionable statement earlier. No Muslim fears from you. Neither I nor any citizen fears from you, we only fear from the Constitution of India,” Sibal said.
In an attack on Congress which echoed vehement opposition, Shah said, “Statements of Congress leaders and Pakistani leaders coincide many times, as yesterday what the Pakistani Prime Minister said about the Bill and what the Congress leaders in this House said, were similar.”
“During Balakot Air Strike the statement by Pakistan and by the Congress leaders were same. Similarly, during the surgical strike, the statements of Pakistani leaders and Congress leaders were identical,” said Shah.
Giving reference to the Nehru-Liaquat Pact, Shah said that under the pact both parties came under to an understanding that the minorities will be given equality, freedom to trade, freedom of expression, and religion. But on contrary to the pact, the minorities on the other (Pakistan) side were barred from contesting elections and their number also declined continuously. However, in India, the minorities got the chance to hold reputed positions like President, Vice-President, and Chief Justice.
“This is not the first time that an amendment has been brought in the Bill,” Shah asserted.
“When citizenship was granted to Sri Lankan immigrants then why Bangladeshis were left out? When Uganda immigrants were given citizenship then why Pakistani and Bangladeshi immigrants were left out?” asked Shah.
Further giving clarification that the Bill is not the violation of Article 14 of Constitution, the minister said that the Right to Equality guaranteed under Article 14 does not restrict from making law on the grounds of ‘reasonable classification’.
“There is a reasonable classification in the Bill as it doesn’t include one religion, in fact, we are including minorities from three countries who are persecuted due to their religion,” he said.
“Earlier, Manmohan Singh had also said in the House that the minorities in Bangladesh are being persecuted. It is our duty to help such people and provide them the citizenship,” Shah said.
Attacking his former ally in Maharashtra, Shiv Sena, who formed the government with Congress and NCP, Shah said, “Shiv Sena had supported the Bill in Lok Sabha now they are speaking against it. The people of Maharashtra want to know what happened over-night that they have to change their stance?”
“This bill won’t take rights of Muslims, it is a Bill to give citizenship not to take it back,” he said.
Attacking opposition members for comments on him to understand the ‘idea of India’, Shah said, “They are trying to teach me the idea of India, my seven generations have lived in this country only, I have not come from abroad.”
“This Bill won’t harm the sentiments of any religion,” Shah clarified.
The Bill was introduced and passed on Lok Sabha on Monday with a 311-80 margin.
According to the legislation, which is soon to be a law, members of Hindu, Sikh, Buddhist, Jain, Parsi, and Christian communities, who have come from Pakistan, Bangladesh, and Afghanistan, till December 31, 2014, facing religious persecution there, will not be treated as illegal immigrants but given Indian citizenship.
The Bill relaxes the requirement of residence in India from 11 years to six years for these migrants.