The Citizenship Amendment Bill 2019 (CAB) is a bill amending the Citizenship Act of 1955 that makes Religious Persecuted Minorities of Hindus, Sikhs, Buddhists, Jains, Parsis and Christians from Afghanistan, Bangladesh and Pakistan, who entered India on or before 31 December 2014, eligible for Indian citizenship. It also seeks to relax the requirement of residence in India for citizenship by naturalisation from 11 years to 5 years for these migrants. Immediate beneficiaries of the Bill, according to IB records, will be just over 30,000 people.
The Union Cabinet cleared the Bill on 4 December 2019. It was passed by the Lok Sabha on 10 December 2019 and, subsequently, in the Rajya Sabha on 11 December 2019.
During the 2014 elections, the Bharatiya Janata Party had promised to grant citizenship to Hindu refugees from Bangladesh and Pakistan. In the party’s election manifesto in 2014, the BJP had promised to welcome Hindu refugees and give shelter to them. The Citizenship (Amendment) Bill, 2016 was introduced and passed in Lok Sabha but there was widespread political opposition and protests in the northeast India. Their chief concern was that the demography of Northeast India will change with the influx of migrants from Bangladesh.
In the 2019 election campaign, the BJP’s manifesto reiterated its commitment to bring in the Bill. The National Register of Citizens (NRC) was updated in Assam state in 2019, leaving out 1.9 million residents, a majority of whom were Hindus, without citizenship. This matter brought urgency to the bring in the Bill.
Necessity of The Citizenship Amendment Bill 2019 (CAB)
As early as 1970, India accepted that Liaquat-Nehru Pact over treatment of their minorities failed and in spite of that, India gave a long rope to Pakistan in the hope that it will mend it’s ways. In fact, the problem became even more serious during the Bangladesh Liberation War where Rape was used as an official policy by Pakistan. Though India expected things to stabilize post liberation, the assassination of Sheik Mujibur Rahman and the rise of Zia-ur-Rahman and BNP which tried to whitewash the Pakistani atrocities and bring the situation to pre-1971 levels only complicated the issues. Hindu population was 12.9% of the total Population of Pakistan after the Partition in 1947. It fell down to 7.5% in 1998 and further diminished to 1.6% largely due to Forced Conversions in Pakistan or they were murdered or due to migration of Refugees to India and other countries. Pakistan sponsored Taliban which came to power in Afghanistan and the treatment it meted out to minorities would make anyone shudder. The number of Sikhs in Afghanistan came down from 35000 to 500.
In our previous article we covered in details how the religious minorities in Pakistan are persecuted and there is no place for Hindus, Christians, Sikhs and other religious Minorities in Pakistan. Check out our previous articles for more information
The Bill was introduced in Lok Sabha on July 19, 2016 as the Citizenship Amendment Bill, 2016. It was referred to the Joint Parliamentary Committee on August 12, 2016. The Committee submitted its report on January 7, 2019.
In January 2016, the Citizenship Amendment Bill was introduced to amend the Citizenship Act, 1955. It was introduced in Lok Sabha on 19 July 2016 and was referred to a Joint Parliamentary Committee on 12 August 2016, which submitted its report on 7 January 2019. It was passed by Lok Sabha on 8 January 2019. It lapsed with the dissolution of the 16th Lok Sabha.
Subsequently, the Union Cabinet cleared the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill, 2019 on 4 December 2019 for introduction in the parliament. The Bill was introduced in 17th Lok Sabha by the Minister of Home Affairs Amit Shah on 9 December 2019 and was passed on 10 December 2019 at 12:11 a.m. with 311 MPs voting in favour and 80 against the Bill.
The bill was subsequently passed by the Rajya Sabha on 11 December 2019 with 125 votes in favour and 99 votes against it. Those voted in favour included BJP allies such as Janata Dal (United), AIADMK, Biju Janata Dal, TDP and YSR-Congress, apart from BJP.
The Bill amends the Citizenship Act of 1955 to make illegal migrants who are Hindus, Sikhs, Buddhists, Jains, Parsis and Christians from Afghanistan, Bangladesh and Pakistan, who entered India on or before 31 December 2014, eligible for Indian citizenship. Under the Act, one of the requirements for citizenship by naturalization is that the applicant must have resided in India during the last 12 months, and for 11 of the previous 14 years. The Bill relaxes this 11-year requirement to five years for persons belonging to the same six religions and three countries. The bill exempts the tribal areas of Assam, Meghalaya, Mizoram, and Tripura, included in the Sixth Schedule to the Constitution from its applicability. These tribal areas include Karbi Anglong in Assam, Garo Hills in Meghalaya, Chakma district in Mizoram, and Tribal Areas district in Tripura. It also exempted the areas regulated through the Inner Line Permit which includes Arunachal Pradesh, Mizoram and Nagaland. The inclusion of Manipur in Inner Line Permit is also announced on 10 December 2019.
The Bill includes new provisions for cancellation the registration of Overseas Citizenship of India (OCI) such as registration through fraud, in case of OCI holder sentenced to imprisonment for two or more years within five years of registration and in necessity in the interest of sovereignty and security of India. It also includes a provision on violation of any law notified by the central government. It also adds the opportunity for the OCI holder to be heard before the cancellation.
Quotes from different Indian Parliamentarians over The Citizenship Amendment Bill 2019 (CAB)
Amit Shah: I want to tell everybody that we placed this before the public even before the elections and we had got the mandate of the public on it. In a democracy there is nothing bigger than the mandate of the people.
Amit Shah in Rajya Sabha: There has been an almost 20% decline each in population of religious minorities in both Pakistan and present day Bangladesh. Either they were killed or they fled to India for shelter.
Amit Shah: How can we give shelter to Muslims who come here from Pakistan or Afghanistan or Bangladesh? Or from other parts of the world? How can we run a country that way.
Amit Shah: Rights of the Muslims in this country will not be affected. This is the govt of Narendra Modi. It will be run as per the Constitution.
Amit Shah: This will be a golden dawn for the migrants who fled to India fearing religious persecution.
Union Minister Kiren Rijiju : Home Minister has discussed and listened to the voice of the people of the northeast. The concerns of the indigenous people of the north-east region are being addressed thoroughly.
JP Nadda, BJP in RS: Minorities in India were protected after partition, but the same did not happen in Pakistan
JP Nadda, BJP, in RS: In 2003,Dr.Manmohan Singh in Rajya Sabha said to then Deputy PM Advani ji on treatment of refugees and persecution of minorities in countries like Bangladesh, he said we should have more liberal approach in granting citizenship to them. So, we are following what he said.
In northeastern states, we will try to address the issues raised by them about the law. We repeat our commitment to preserving the language, culture, and social identity rights of northeastern states. There are provisions to preserve these rights. The concern of the northeast will be addressed, we had said this earlier.
Saroj Pandey , BJP: There is no politics over this bill, only humanitarian considerations.
Congress spreading confusion over Citizenship Amendment Bill : Shivraj Singh Chouhan
Senior BJP leader Shivraj Singh Chouhan has alleged that the opposition Congress was creating confusion over the CAB. “It (CAB) is not against any community and religion. India is a country of Muslims and it will remain so for them. The opposition is creating confusion across the country on the CAB,” Chauhan told reporters in Dhanbad.
Subramanian Swamy of BJP says the bill is in keeping with Article 11 of the Constitution which gives right to Parliament to regulate the right of citizenship by law
Subramanian Swamy of BJP says the bill does not violate Article 14 of the Constitution as argued by the Congress. Says this has been made clear in many arguments like the Antulay case.
Law minister Ravi Shankar Prasad intervenes in the debate. Says Parliament has the powers to pass this bill under Article 246 which gives Parliament power to make laws on any of the matters enumerated in List I in the Seventh Schedule ( Union List)
Union Minister of Law & Justice, Ravi Shankar Prasad in Rajya Sabha: All bills of our govt are brought in the House only after they are vetted by the Law & Legislative Department.
Amit Shah: This bill should have been brought 50 years ago. If so, situations wouldn’t have aggravated so much
Amit Shah raises Nehru-Liaquat Agreement of 1950. Asks what happened to Pakistan to treat minorities there with dignity.
Amit Shah: Bill has nothing to do with electoral politics. Says the bill was first brought in 2015 when there were no elections round . And that even today the next general elections are 4.5 years away
Amit Shah: During UPA govt, the then Rajasthan govt wrote to then HM P Chidambaram stating outstanding issue of large no. of Pak refugees from Hindu and Sikh communities. 13,000 people from two religions only were benefited. Whereas, we have included refugees from 6 religions.We brought in 6 religions, it is not appreciated. Oppn finds fault for not including one religion.
Amit Shah: How can Muslims in Islamic republic be called minority? Still if Muslims are persecuted and apply for citizenship we go on a case to case basis. There is that provision.
Amit Shah: This is not a violation of Article 14. This comes under ‘reasonable classification’ as there are 6 religious groups that are listed.
Amit Shah: No minority in this country, including Muslims, are going to be affected by this. This is not about their citizenship. This is for migrants.Please don’t do politics over this bill.
Home Minister Amit Shah, in Rajya Sabha, on The Citizenship Amendment Bill 2019 (CAB) : The entire country knows that the reason behind partition was Jinnah and it was done due to his demand. But all I am asking is why did Congress agree to it? Why was it done on the basis of religion?
Amit Shah: There is no discrimination against Sri Lankan Tamils. The precedence of this House that we have always passed country-specific laws to accommodate refugees depending on the situation.
Amit Shah: It was asked that why were Rohingyas not included in the Bill? Rohingyas don’t come to India directly, they go to Bangladesh and then infiltrate into India from there.
Amit Shah: Do not scare the minorities of this country. This bill is to give citizenship, not to take away citizenship. Nobody’s citizenship is being taken away.
Amit Shah: Do not teach me the idea of India . I know what it is, I was born and brought up here. I haven’t come from abroad.
Amit Shah: Neither CAB, nor NRC, nor law against triple talaq is anti-Muslim. Triple Talaq is the Bill to give rights to crores of Muslim women in the country.
Amit Shah: I want to assure the people of Assam that there is no reason to worry. Their language and culture and rights will be protected.
Amit Shah says at times statements of some Opposition leaders and that of Pakistan are similar.
Amit Shah: To people who are worried that minorities of this country will be subjected to injustice, it will not happen…This bill will give a new dawn to crores of people.
Amit Shah: CAB will be applicable across the country, including in West Bengal
The House is voting on an amendment motion moved by CPI(M) member KK Raaghesh to refer the bill to a select committee
The amendments to move Citizenship Amendment Bill to select panel has been voted out by 123 votes to 99 against.
The Bill is now being voted clause by clause.
All the amendments on clauses moved by Opposition members have been voted out
Shiv Sena MPs are not present in the Rajya Sabha as voting for the amendments to CAB are on.
08:44 PM The House voted on whether to pass the bill. Home Minister Amit Shah has moved the motion.
08:51 PM Wednesday 11-December 2019, Citizenship Amendment Bill was passed in the Rajya Sabha by 125 votes to 105. It had been passed in the Lok Sabha on Monday
Narendra Modi with twitter handle @narendramodi tweeted, “A landmark day for India and our nation’s ethos of compassion and brotherhood! Glad that the #CAB2019 has been passed in the #RajyaSabha. Gratitude to all the MPs who voted in favour of the Bill. This Bill will alleviate the suffering of many who faced persecution for years.”
Why the opposition and Muslims in India are angry against CAB.
The Citizenship Amendment Bill 2019 (CAB) considers three categories
1. People who formally applied asylum
2. People who illegally infiltrated India
3. People who are in the three mentioned countries and want to come to India.
Opposition is because the bill refuses to give citizenship to those Bangladeshis Muslims who illegally entered India and also refuses to give citizenship to Rohingya Bengali Muslims who committed genocide of thousands of Hindus and Buddhists in Myanmar and infiltrated into India via Bangladesh border. We covered about Massacre of Hindus and Buddhists by Rohingyas in Myanmar in details in our previous article In Asia’s Largest Terrorist Attacks, Bengali Muslim Islamic Terrorists Known As Rohingya Killed Hundreds Of Buddhists And Hindus In Myanmar
Further this opposition is fueled by the Political Parties who used Bangladeshi Muslims and Rohingya Bengali Muslims as their vote bank.
This confirms two things.
1. The protests in North East are primarily to scare the Japanese away. Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe was slated to attend an annual summit with Prime Minister Narendra Modi in Assam’s Guwahati on December 15-16. If the meeting in Guwahati is to be cancelled, it is likely to be held in Delhi’s Hyderabad House. As per the schedule, the two leaders will reportedly visit Manipur after attending the two-day summit in Guwahati. Any cancellation of meetings mean it’s disadvantage Assam and some other state will get the benefits. Who will benefit by this loss to Assam? As per people, “Definitely it’s Liberal opposition political parties with support from Pakistani agencies with nexus with opportunist Muslim leaders who represents Bangladeshi Muslims.” For them whole state will lose this opportunity for Economic Development.
2. The exclusion of Muslims means all those Bangladeshi infiltrators can’t become Indian citizens using The Citizenship Amendment Bill 2019 (CAB). Hence the anger.
Social Media Support for Indian Government Decision on CAB
Different hashtags trended on Twitter. Many social media users came up and defended Indian Governemnt passage of the CAB>
A twitter user explained the CAB in details by a series of his tweets. He tweeted, “#CitizenshipAmendmentBill2019 is a bill amending the Citizenship Act of 1955 to make illegal migrants who are Hindus, Sikhs, Buddhists, Jains, Parsis & Christians from Afghanistan, Bangladesh & Pakistan, who entered India on or before 31 Dec 2014, eligible for Indian citizenship.”
“#CitizenshipAmendmentBill2019 CAB does not impact Muslim Citizens of India. It is a fear mongering done by #Liberals to create a scare among Muslims in India. CAB only deals with granting Citizenship to persecuted Minorities belonging to 6 different religions in 3 Islamic Nations.”
“Under #CitizenshipAmendmentBill2019, People belonging to 6 notified Religious Minorities automatically get Indian Citizenship and it applies to those refugees who are already living in India for last 6 years or more.”
“#Librrals are raising the question, Why Muslims are excluded? Simple Answer: CAB is to provide Citizenship to Oppressed Hindus, Christians and 4 Minorities religions in 3 Islamist Nations. How can a Muslim be a minority in a Islamist country?”
“For Muslims normal procedure for citizenship applies under #CitizenshipAmendmentBill2019 that will be examined from case to case basis. India is not denying Muslim refugees from Islamic nations citizenship. Instead of fast track Granting of Citizenship, normal procedure applies.”
“Opportunist #Liberal #Opposition parties are scare mongering by inciting Indian Muslims. #CitizenshipAmendmentBill2019 is only for granting Citizenship to 6 minority religions in 3 Islamic countries, Who fled to India after oppression. It doesn’t affect Indian Muslim Citizens.”
“There was criticism by Pakistani PM @ImranKhanPTI My response: You can make Pakistan a Better state & make its Constitution Better. Work towards protecting Human Rights of Baloch, Pashtuns, Sindhis, Ahamadiyas, Mohajirs, Shias, Christians, Hindus in Pakistan Constitution.”
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