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Home / India News / Citizenship bill debate: Point-by-point rebuttal of Opposition charges by Amit Shah

Citizenship bill debate: Point-by-point rebuttal of Opposition charges by Amit Shah

india Updated: Dec 11, 2019 23:59 IST

Hindustan Times, New Delhi
Union Home Minister Amit Shah speaks in the Rajya Sabha during the Winter Session of Parliament, in New Delhi, on Wednesday.
Union Home Minister Amit Shah speaks in the Rajya Sabha during the Winter Session of Parliament, in New Delhi, on Wednesday.(PTI Photo)
         

Home Minister Amit Shah waited for six hours - the time allotted by Rajya Sabha Chairman for the debate on citizenship bill - to reply to the Opposition charges. When his turn came, he listed the questions put forward by the Opposition on the bill and started answering them.

1. On objection to his statement that Partition happened on religious lines: I would like to quote from the April 8, 1950 Nehru-Liaquat agreement (known as Delhi declaration), which said the religious minorities will be given equal rights in both the countries (India and Pakistan) to be part of the government and practice their own religions. These are the claims made by the Prime Ministers of both the countries to their respective religious minorities.

2. On question that why only three neighbouring countries have been chosen: This is not happening for the first time in India. India has given citizenship to people coming from other countries, like Sri Lanka, Uganda etc. Can I ask why Bangladeshis or Pakistanis were left out? The laws at that time addressed the situations in these countries, the law we are planning to bring is focussed on these countries. I know the law in Pakistan. There are many restrictions. India has followed the principles enunciated in the Nehru-Liaquat pact - we have seen people from minority communities at high positions like the CJI, CEC, even Presidents an Vice-President. But has this happened in Pakistan or any of the three neighbouring countries? Hence, this law is needed.

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3. On comment that government does not have any record on details of minorities in the country: If there is no law, everyone will say he/she is the citizen of the country. That is why we are proposing to bring this law.

4. On comment that this move is to deflect attention of the country from other issues: We don’t have to do this. We brought this bill in 2015, it went to joint committee but wasn’t passed by the Rajya Sabha. There was no need to deflect attention in 2015, we fight and win elections on our own strength and popularity.

5. On question as to why aren’t Muslims included in the purview of the bill: I am surprised that we included people from six religions, but there is no appreciation. All they (Opposition) care about it why aren’t Muslims included? The reason why we haven’t included Muslims is because they are not in minority in the three countries we have focussed on - Pakistan, Bangladesh and Afghanistan. The citizenship bill talks about persecution of religious minorities. But our law also has a provision that those people can also apply for Indian citizenship. We have given citizenship to more than 566 Muslims from these countries who feel persecuted.

6. On charges that the citizenship bill violates Article 14 of the Constitution: Article 14 doesn’t stop Parliament from making laws which are based on reasonable classification. And reasonable classification is there in this case. We are not taking into consideration one religion from these countries, but all the minorities. It’s a class, which is being persecuted in those countries.