- Lok Sabha passes Citizenship (Amendment) Bill amid protests
- Bill against fundamental aspects of the Indian constitution: Opposition
- Rajnath Singh says bill in interest of northeast, applies to entire India
A proposed law to give citizenship to non-Muslims from Pakistan, Bangladesh and Afghanistan was passed by Lok Sabha today amid vigorous dissent by several opposition parties, including the Congress and the Left Front. Most parties from the northeast, even those that were allies of the BJP, have also strongly opposed Bill, saying it is "against the fundamental aspects of the Indian constitution".
A day-long shutdown was held against the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill, 2016, across the northeast today, in which five people were injured. Assam has been witnessing protests since the NDA government said it was going ahead with the controversial bill and yesterday, Asom Gana Parishad, a regional ally of the BJP, exited the ruling coalition in Assam. The state has been witnessing protests since the NDA government said it was going ahead with the controversial bill.
Today, moments after the bill was passed, Assam's BJP spokesperson Mehdi Alam Bora resigned all party posts in protest.
The Citizenship (Amendment) Bill, 2016 will amend the laws governing citizenship, formed in 1955, to grant Indian nationality to Hindus, Sikhs, Buddhists, Jains, Parsis and Christians, who fled religious persecution from the three neighbouring countries and entered India before December 31, 2014.
The political parties and the civil society opposing the proposed law say it would allow citizenship to illegal Hindu migrants from Bangladesh, who came to the state after March 1971, in violation to the Assam Accord, 1985.
Illegal migration is a sensitive issue in the northeast, where tribals and other ethnic communities wish to keep out the outsiders.
"The burden of those persecuted migrants will be shared by the whole country. Assam alone should not have to bear the entire burden," Union minister Rajnath Singh said while responding to the debate on the bill. "The government of India is committed to give all help to the state government and people of Assam," he said.
The opposition parties say the bill links religion to citizenship and want it to be "religion and country neutral".
"Some people ask why Christians were included in the bill. But they have also suffered since the partition, so we have included them in the amended bill. How can there be a more secular bill," the minister added.