CAB assists minorities, not against Muslims: Amit Shah in Rajya Sabha
New Delhi The Citizenship (Amendment) Bill, 2019 is not against Muslims citizens of India and does not violate any Constitutional provisions including Article 14 ( which guarantees equality before the law, said Union home minister Amit Shah as he piloted the contentious legislation in the Upper House on Wednesday.
Other speakers from the Bharatiya Janata Party and allies said the need to help out persecuted minorities in Pakistan, Bangladesh and Afghanistan was a long-felt requirement.
“The bill provides citizenship to many who have been rendered helpless but it is not a legislation that takes away anyone’s citizenship. Nobody needs to fear it,” Shah said.
Earlier Congress and other parties had claimed the legislation targeted Muslims and there was a feeling of insecurity among India’s largest religious minority.
“There would have been no need to bring this bill had there been no partition on religious lines. There would have been no need to bring it if the problem had been addressed after partition,” Shah said.
While India took care of its minorities and Muslims can even become the President, vice-president, Chief Justice or chief election commissioner, Pakistan failed its minorities, the home minister said adding the figure of those in distress could be in lakhs or crores.
Seeking to allay Opposition concerns on equality before law provisions, Shah said there was scope for taking steps based on reasonable classification. These six groups are minorities from three neighbouring Muslim-majority countries, he said.
The minister said even if a Muslim from these country wanted, they can apply for citizenship. At least 566 Muslims have been granted citizenship in the last five years, he said.
He said even Mahatma Gandhi had stressed on the need to grant proper rights to minorities in Pakistan. The problem of their sufferings was acknowledged even by former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, Shah added.
Law minister Ravi Shankar Prasad contested Opposition barbs on the legality of the bill and said that like all other draft legislation, the CAB, too, was vetted by his ministry. He also said that Article 14 provided for reasonable classification and the bill in no way violated it.
Senior BJP leader Vinay Sahasrabuddhe said illegal migration had breached tolerable proportions. This is the country’s “tryst with humanity,” the BJP leader said.
BJP leader JP Nadda said that the country was divided on religious lines and the essence of this bill is to protect minorities being persecuted in Pakistan, Bangladesh and Afghanistan.
He said despite the Nehru-Liaquat Pact signed in 1950, minorities in Pakistan were persecuted on the basis of their religion and cited an old speech by former PM Manmohan Singh in the Upper House in 2003 over treatment of refugees in India.
Quoting from the speech Nadda said he had stated that minorities were persecuted in Bangladesh and had told this to the then deputy prime minister LK Advani that it was the country’s moral obligation to make the Citizens Act more liberal to help them.
“We have brought this bill respecting his words only (Singh),” said Nadda.
Balwinder Singh Bhunder of the Shiromani Akali Dal said the need for such a bill was being felt for 50 years and Sikhs, being the smallest minority, had also suffered persecution.
AIADMK leader Vijila Sathyananth also supported the bill but also sought citizenship for Sri Lankan Tamils.