Citizenship Bill Discriminates Against Muslims: Opposition Parties

Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury, Leader of the Congress in Lok Sabha, said the government was trying to create an impression that by opposing the legislation, his party was anti-Hindu.

Citizenship Bill Discriminates Against Muslims: Opposition Parties

The members objected to keeping countries like Nepal, Sri Lanka, Myanmar out of the list.

New Delhi:

Cautioning the government against the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill, the Opposition on Monday claimed in Lok Sabha that the legislation was against the basic principles of the Constitution as it "discriminates" on the basis of religion and would alienate Muslims, the largest minority community in the country.

The members also objected to keeping countries like Nepal, Sri Lanka, Myanmar out of the list.

Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury, Leader of the Congress in Lok Sabha, said the government was trying to create an impression that by opposing the legislation, his party was anti-Hindu.

"We are opposing the bill because it is discriminatory in nature. It wreaks havoc on the very foundations of the Constitution. This is a step towards Hindu rashtra. India should maintain the essence of humanity," Mr Chowdhury said participating in the debate on the Bill.

AIMIM MP Asaduddin Owaisi also launched a blistering attack on the Union government, saying the bill was aimed at making Muslims "stateless" and would lead to another partition.

Invoking Mahatma Gandhi, Mr Owaisi said he was called Mahatma after he tore the discriminatory citizenship card in South Africa, and the Hyderabad MP then ripped the copy of the bill to highlight his protest, inviting sharp reactions from the treasury benches which described his act an "insult" to Parliament.

The is an insult to India''s freedom fighters, Mr Owaisi retorted, accusing the BJP-led government of working to marginalise Muslims in the country.

Owaisi alleged the bill was worse than the discriminatory laws brought by Hitler in Germany.

"The bill is against the Constitution.... It is a conspiracy to make Muslims stateless," Owaisi said during the debate in the Lower House, questioning the government as to why it had not included nations like China, which occupies parts of India, and other countries.

"Are you afraid of China?" he asked.

Initiating the debate on the bill, Congress member Manish Tewari said the government has brought the legislation with a political intention "which everyone knows", but did not elaborate.

Referring to the provisions in the Constitution, he said the bill was violative of the provisions of Articles 14, 15, 21, 25 and 26.

These Articles mainly deal with right to equality and equal protection of law to everyone irrespective of caste, colour, creed or religion.

"The bill is against the Constitution, against the spirit of Constitution and against the ideology propounded by Babasaheb Ambedkar," Mr Tewari said.

Discrimination on the basis of religion, he further said, was not in tune with the Preamble of the Constitution which specifically mentions the word "secularism".

"Secularism is embedded in the Constitution," he said.

Refuting the contention that the Congress was responsible for partition of the country, Mr Tewari alleged that it was Savarkar who propagated the idea of partition at a Hindu Mahasabha meeting in 1935.

According to the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill, 2019 members of Hindu, Sikh, Buddhist, Jain, Parsi and Christian communities, who have come from Pakistan, Bangladesh and Afghanistan till December 31, 2014 facing religious persecution there, will not be treated as illegal immigrants but given Indian citizenship.

Surpriya Sule (NCP) said the perception is that every Muslim is feeling insecure and the largest minority community should not feel left out.
Referring to DMK MP K Kanimozhi, she said, "What happens to those who practise atheism?"

She also asked why Mynamar and Sri Lanka were not included in the list of countries along with Bangladesh, Pakistan and Afghanistan.
Sule claimed the bill will not pass judicial scrutiny.

Nama Nageshwar Rao (TRS) said his party was opposed to the proposed law as it does not include Muslims.

DMK member Dayanidhi Maran claimed the government has not taken a single step to win the hearts of minorities and the bill was against the spirit of India's age-old ethos of "Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam" (world is a family).

"You are preoccupied with Pakistan," he said, and added that Amit Shah has failed to realise that he is the Home Minister of the entire India and not just of north India.

The BJP's former ally Shiv Sena said that people who get Indian citizenship under the proposed law should not be granted voting rights for 25 years.

Sena's Vinayak Raut also said there is no clarity yet on how and in which state these people would be rehabilitated.

He was of the view that besides Pakistan, Bangladesh and Afghanistan, refugees from Sri Lanka should also be allowed to get Indian citizenship.

TMC leader Abhishek Banerjee said his party's idea of India was "inclusive" unlike the ruling party''s idea of a "divisive" nation.

"Our India smiles. Your idea of India is based on mob lynching. Let me tell you whatever may happen there wouldn''t be any NRC in West Bengal," Mr Banerjee said.

Afzal Ansari (BSP), PK Kunhalikuty (Indian Union Muslim League), Venkatesan S (CPI-M) and ST Hasan (Samajwadi Party) also opposed the bill saying it does not include the Muslim community.

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