The contentious Citizenship Amendment Bill (CAB) 2019 has passed its first hurdle in the Lok Sabha after a heated debate throughout Monday between the ruling and opposition parties. The Bill has passed with an overwhelming majority of 311 members favouring the Bill, while 80 voted against it.
CAB to be introduced in RS on Wednesday
Amit Shah is likely to table the Citizenship Bill in the Rajya Sabha (RS) on Wednesday. The ruling party had a relaxed affair in the Lok Sabha. With the coming of parties such as JD(U), Shiv Sena, BJD and others from the Northeast on one platform over the support of Citizenship (Amendment) Bill, it seems the Bill will get the nod in the Upper House without any ifs and buts.
Six communities get relaxation
In reality, with the passing of the Bill, six religious minority communities Hindu, Sikh, Buddhist, Jain, Parsi and Christian from Pakistan, Bangladesh and Afghanistan will have no problem in getting the Indian citizenship. But the crucial point is that Muslims are not included in this list. The step-motherly behaviour by the government meted out against Muslims, has created a ruckus in the Lower House. This legislation will apply to groups who have arrived in India on or before December 31, 2014.
OCI to provide several benefits
The Bill got amended for the OCI-(Overseas Citizen of India) Cardholders. A foreigner may register as an OCI under the 1955 Act if they are of Indian origin (e.g. a former citizen of India or their descendants) or the spouse of a person of Indian origin. The OCI will provide them with different kinds of benefits such as the right to travel to India, and work and study across the country. The Bill has added a provision that the registration of Overseas Citizen of India (OCI) cardholders may get cancelled in the case of their violation of the law.
US federal commission seeks sanction
It is noticeable that CAB is keenly covered by international media too. People all over the world have kept their vigil eyes on the development of this controversial Bill. The US has criticised the Bill. The federal US commission on international religious freedom has said that the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill is a “dangerous turn in wrong direction” and sought American sanctions against Home Minister Amit Shah if both houses of the Indian Parliament passed the Bill.
CAB – an election manifesto of BJP
Although there is a fierce opposition against the Bill, Union Home Minister Amit Shah has been saying bringing this Bill was a part of the proclamation in the BJP Manifesto in 2014 as well as the 2019 Lok Sabha elections. He asserted that the Bill has the “endorsement of 130 crore Indian citizens” and rejected suggestions that the measure is anti-Muslim, saying it will give rights to persecuted minorities from Pakistan, Bangladesh and Afghanistan.
Aim to make Muslims B grade citizens
The opposition parties, despite the little number in the Lower House, have criticised the Bill in one breath. They have accused the ruling government that the objective behind the Bill is to make the Muslims of this country B grade citizens. But the ruling party has refuted such a claim as they have said it is impossible for any government to do so because Muslims are the citizens of India not by chance but by choice.
Bill may lead to partition
AIMIM MP Asaduddin Owaisi on Monday launched a blistering attack against the Union government in Lok Sabha over the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill, saying it was aimed at making Muslims “stateless” and would lead to another partition.
Intellectuals condemn Bill
A considerable number of Indian scientists and scholars living in India and abroad have condemned the Bill in a signed open letter and demanded its immediate withdrawal. Citing the provisions in the constitution, the signatories state, “We note that article 14 of the Indian constitution prohibits the State from denying to any person equality before the law or the equal protection of the laws within the territory of India. While it is the job of legal experts to determine whether this draft bill violates the letter of the constitution, it seems certain to us that it violates its spirit.”
The Citizenship Amendment Bill is a dangerous move on the part of the government, and it might disturb the unity of the country as it is an attack on India’s rich historical culture, the secular status as well as on the Indian constitution. In light of the heated discussions and protests that are underway against this Bill, the repercussions will be understood once the Bill is passed. Many questions such as will it affect the delicate harmony of this country will be answered in the time to come. Or is this one of the distractions of the ruling government to deviate from real questions, ones that pertain to ascertaining the failures of the government.