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Tuesday, Dec 10, 2019

Citizenship bill to be tabled in House soon, says Rajnath Singh

Singh, addressing a meeting of the Bharatiya Janata Party’s parliamentarians, asserted that the proposed legislation was as important as the August 5 move to nullify Article 370, which gave special status to Jammu and Kashmir.

india Updated: Dec 04, 2019 00:19 IST
HT Correspondent
HT Correspondent
Hindustan Times, New Delhi
Rajnath Singh also dismissed the Opposition’s objections over the bill and said the BJP had always worked to unite the country and its people.
Rajnath Singh also dismissed the Opposition’s objections over the bill and said the BJP had always worked to unite the country and its people. (REUTERS)
         

Defence minister Rajnath Singh on Tuesday informed his party colleagues in Parliament that the Citizenship Amendment Bill (CAB) 2019, which seeks to fast-track grant of Indian citizenship to members of minority communities from three Muslim-majority nations in India’s neighbourhood, will be placed before the house soon.

The Union Cabinet is expected to consider the CAB- 2019 tomorrow.

Singh, addressing a meeting of the Bharatiya Janata Party’s parliamentarians, asserted that the proposed legislation was as important as the August 5 move to nullify Article 370, which gave special status to Jammu and Kashmir. The CAB seeks to grant citizenship to non-Muslim migrants from Pakistan, Afghanistan and Bangladesh.

Singh also dismissed the Opposition’s objections over the bill and said the BJP had always worked to unite the country and its people. “If religious minorities are being persecuted in those countries, it is our duty to deliver justice to them. It should not be linked to any religion,” he said.

CAB 2019 makes it easy for minority communities -- for instance Hindus, Sikhs, Christians and Parsis -- form neighbouring countries to get Indian citizenship. The proposed legislation relaxes the criteria for grant of Indian citizenship. The Government argues that CAB 2019 is necessary to help members of the minority communities who may be facing religious persecution in Afghanistan, Pakistan and Bangladesh. CAB 2019 proposes a cut-off date of December 31, 2014.

Separately, home minister Amit Shah is meeting stakeholders from the northeast, some of who have opposed the CAB 2019. Shah is expected to meet the All Assam Students Union (AASU) on Tuesday evening. AASU was one of the key architects of the 1985 Assam Accord wherein the government promised to update the National Register of Citizen (NRC) of Assam with a cut-off date of March 25, 1971.

By allowing migrants who entered India till December 2019 to qualify for Indian citizenship, CAB 2019 seeks to dilute the Assam Accord.

Shah has met political and social groups from Tripura, Mizoram, Arunachal Pradesh, Meghalaya and Nagaland. The Chief ministers of Assam, Arunachal Pradesh and Meghalaya -- Sorbananda Sonowal, Prema Khandu and Conrad Sangma respectively -- have also met the home minister.

While some northeastern political parties and other groups have opposed CAB 2019 because of concerns that it could affect indigenous people, their culture and way of life, a “consensus seems to have emerged already,” keeping schedule VI areas and Inner-line-Permit (ILP) areas out of the proposed legislation, a senior official did not want to be named said.

The ILP regime is applicable in Arunachal Pradesh, Nagaland and Mizoram under the Bengal Eastern Frontier Regulation of 1873. Citizens from other states need permission to visit these states. And, under the Sixth Schedule of the Constitution autonomous councils and districts created in Assam, Meghalaya and Tripura will be out of the proposed legislation. Autonomous councils enjoy have certain executive and legislative powers.

The Union home ministry is understood to have communicated this formula to civil society groups that are opposed to the CAB during the discussions.