After the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill was passed in the Lok Sabha past midnight on Monday following hours of extensive debate and a spirited attack by Opposition, Defence Minister Rajnath Singh welcomed the bill and said that it is in "national interest".
"The Bill is in the national interest. In Pakistan, Bangladesh and Afghanistan, there was religious oppression due to which people took refuge in India. Now, the bill seeks to give them citizenship," Mr Singh said.
The Defence Minister said only those who were persecuted on the basis of religion from the three countries would be given citizenship.
"The three countries are Islamic states and the followers of Islam cannot be persecuted from the countries on the basis of religion," he said, while clearing stance on why Muslims will not be accorded the citizenship.
The Bill, which seeks to give citizenship to refugees from the Hindu , Christian, Sikh, Buddhist and Zorastrian communities fleeing religious persecution from Pakistan, Afghanistan and Bangladesh was passed in Lok Sabha after a debate and a division of vote with 311 MPs voting in favour of the bill and 80 voting against it.
The Bill proposes Indian citizenship be provided to the members of Hindu, Sikh, Buddhist, Jain, Parsi and Christian communities, who have come from the three countries to India before December 31, 2014, to put an end to them being treated as illegal immigrants in the country.
Union Health Minister Harsh Vardhan took to Twitter and said that the Bill upheld the "true spirit of democracy and principles enshrined in Constitution".
"It is a historic day with Lok Sabha passing the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill, 2019. I extend my gratitude to all MPs who supported the Bill after a healthy debate," he said.
Former Maharashtra chief minister Devendra Fadnavis also welcomed the Bill. He said that India is a land of unity in diversity and tolerance. "Recent decisions like Article 370 and CAB shows our firm commitment towards national security and integrity."
BJP National Working President JP Nadda said that the Bill has "strengthened the culture" in India.
BJP lawmaker Tejasvi Surya urged the opposition parties to "reconsider their stand on the passage of Bill" and said that it is being brought in the larger national interest.
BJP leader Manoj Tiwari said a "new life" has been accorded to those who suffered from wrongdoings in other countries.
Shiv Sena leader Vinayak Raut said: "It is our duty to secure the immigrants. Keeping in mind the Hindutva ideologies, we support the bill."