Citizenship bill is not even .001 per cent against minorities: Amit Shah

NPIC-2019129141254NEW DELHI : The Lok Sabha today voted in favour of introducing the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill despite protests from Opposition which labelled the legislation “regressive”.
The bill was introduced with 293 Ayes and 82 Nos. The Lok Sabha saw a war of words between Home Minister Amit Shah and the Opposition, with Shah insisting that the bill was “not even 0.001% against the minorities of the country”.
Congress leader Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury called it “nothing but a targeted legislation over minority people of our country”, while the TMC called it “divisive and unconstitutional”.Shah said he was ready to respond to all queries “but the Opposition must not walk out” when he does.
Earlier, Amit Shah introduced the Citizenship Amendment Bill, 2019 in the House amidst uproar by the opposition members. The legislation is intended to amend the existing law in order to grant an exemption to illegal migrants in selected categories.
Amit Shah said that we need the Citizenship Amendment Bill because Congress divided the country on the basis of religion. Responding to concerns of members, Home Minister said that there is nothing in the bill against the minority community.

“The bill is not even .001 per cent against minorities of the countries,’ he said. Shah, who faced constant interruptions from opposition members, said the bill does not violate any provision of the constitution.
Shah said that the Muslim community has not been named in the Bill. “The word `Muslim’ is not there,” he said. He said there was need of the bill because the country was divided into religious lines during Congress rule.
“Why do we need this Bill today? After independence, if Congress had not done partition on the basis on religion, then, today we would have not needed this Bill. Congress did partition on the basis of religion,” said Shah.. It (the bill) does not violate Article 14 of Constitution,” he said.
He said non-Muslim minorities have faced such persecution in Pakistan, Bangladesh and Afghanistan. Shah said opposition members should not speak on the merits of the bill but state if the House has legislative competence to take it up.
It took almost 90 minutes for the bill to be introduced in the House after Shah tabled it with Opposition members including Congress leader Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury, TMC’s Saugata Roy, DMK member TR Baalu and RSP’s NK Premachandran strongly opposing its introduction. They demanded the withdrawal of the bill.

The bill makes Hindus, Sikhs, Buddhists, Jains, Parsis, Christians from Pakistan, Bangladesh and Afghanistan, eligible for citizenship, who faced religious persecution, eligible for citizenship. It seeks to amend the Citizenship Act.
The Congress divided India on religious lines during the Partition of 1947, Home Minister Amit Shah charged today in parliament as he rebutted the opposition’s argument that the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill runs contrary to the principles of equality and secularism under the constitution. The bill was introduced for debate after voting in the Lok Sabha amid loud protests by the opposition.
“The Citizenship (Amendment) Bill wouldn’t have been needed if the Congress had not allowed partition on basis of religion. It was the Congress that divided the country on religious lines, not us,” Amit Shah shouted as Congress members alleged that the proposed law was against Muslims and opposed the tabling of the bill in the Lok Sabha.
Congress MP Shashi Tharoor had said earlier, “Those who believe religion should determine nationhood, that was the idea of Pakistan.” The bill “endorses the idea of religious discrimination by allowing individuals of only six religious identities to acquire citizenship while excluding the individuals belonging to other religious identities”, Mr Tharoor said, vehemently opposing the tabling of the bill.
Shah  said in Lok Sabha that the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill 2019 is not against minorities but against infiltrators. Introducing the bill, Shah said the Congress “divided” the country on the basis of religion that is why it was necessary to bring the bill.
He said the proposed legislation is being brought on the basis of reasonable classifications provided under the Constitution and it does not violate any of its provisions. The bill, he said, seeks to give Indian nationality to non-Muslim refugees from Pakistan, Bangladesh and Afghanistan who are facing religious persecution there.
The home minister said laws were framed to give citizenship to people on several occasions in the past, including in 1971 after the creation of Bangladesh and attacks on Indians in Uganda, by using the provision of reasonable classifications.

If this is how we want to define equality, why doesn’t it apply to the minorities we are referring to? Please explain how minorities get special quota and status for things like education,” said Amit Shah, asserting that Article 14 is “not a hurdle”.Article 14 of the Constitution stresses on equality before the law and equal protection of laws.
(With Agency Inputs ).


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