Home Minister Amit Shah is introducing the contentious citizenship amendment bill in the Lok Sabha amid protests by the Congress that has called the legislative proposal “nothing but legislation targeted against minorities”. Amit Shah promptly contested the charge, insisting that “this bill is not against minorities of this country” but against infiltrators.
Shah assured the opposition that he will answer all their questions on the Citizenship Bill. “I will answer all questions on the Bill. Till then, don’t walk out,” he said.
Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury, leader of Congress in Lok Sabha, said the Citizenship Bill is nothing but a “targeted legislation” against minorities. Home minister Shah then said that the Bill is not even “.001% against minorities in the country”.
Amit Shah said the Bill isn’t against any Article of the Constitution and added that the Right to Equality will not be affected by it.
“In 1971,Indira Gandhi had decided to give citizenship to everyone who came from Bangladesh. Why weren’t people from Pakistan given Citizenship then? Even after 1971, minorities have been continuously persecuted in Bangladesh. The genocide hasn’t stopped,” Shah said.
All India Majlis-e-Ittehad-ul-Muslimeen (AIMIM) leader Asaduddin Owaisi appealed to Lok Sabha speaker Om Birla to “save the country” from such a law. “I appeal to you [Speaker], save country from such a law and save home minister [Amit Shah] also otherwise like in Nuremberg race laws and Israel’s citizenship act, [else] home minister’s name will be featured with [Adolf] Hitler and David Ben-Gurion,” Owaisi was quoted as saying by news agency ANI.
The Bill proposes Indian citizenship for non-Muslim refugees from Pakistan, Bangladesh and Afghanistan. People from these neigbouring countries who have entered India on or before December 31, 2014 and belong to Hindu, Sikh, Buddhist, Jain, Parsi and Christian communities will be eligible for citizenship.
There have been protests in the north-eastern states against the controversial bill. Student organisations, civil society groups and opposition parties in the region have said that the Bill will lead to influx of minorities.
Last week, the Union Cabinet had cleared the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill paving the way for it to be tabled in Parliament.
The Congress had decided to oppose the CAB strongly. Chowdhury, after a meeting at Congress president Sonia Gandhi’s residence had said Congress will oppose the bill as it is against the Constitution, secular ethos, tradition, culture and civilization.
Sitaram Yechury, CPI(M) general secretary, said his party will move two amendments on the bill when it is introduced in the Lok Sabha. He said all relegions must get equal treatment in a diverse country like India.