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Lok Sabha burns midnight oil to pass Citizenship Amendment Bill

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Amit Shah

New Delhi, Dec 10 : The controversial Citizenship (Amendment) Bill 2019, which seeks to give Indian citizenship to non-Muslim refugees from Pakistan, Bangladesh and Afghanistan, was passed in the Lok Sabha on Monday midnight though it was vehemently opposed by the major opposition parties which described it as “anti-Muslim”.

However, the government rejected the opposition’s claims, saying the Bill does not affect the Muslim community residing in the country.

The draft legislation was passed after division of votes with 311 in its favour and 80 against it, following a marathon debate which continued till 12.06 a.m. on Tuesday after beginning at about 4 p.m. on Monday. A total of 48 Parliamentarians took part in the debate.

The Bill would now be moved in the Rajya Sabha on Tuesday to cross its final hurdle before becoming a law to provide Indian nationality to Hindus, Christians, Sikhs, Parsis, Jains and Buddhists fleeing persecution in Pakistan, Afghanistan and Bangladesh.

The Treasury benches called it a historical Bill while the opposition dubbed the move as one to “kill secularism and Constitution of India” and “another attempt of partition” in the country in the name of religion and “violation of Article 14 of the Constitution”.

Major opposition parties, including Congress, Trinamool Congress, Revolutionary Socialist Party, Dravida Munnetra Kazhgam (DMK), All India Majlis-e-Ittehad-ul-Muslimeen (AIMIM), Indian Union Muslim League (IUML), AIUDF, Bahujan Samaj Party, Samajwadi Party, Aam Aadmi Party and YSR Congress Party opposed the Bill citing various articles of the Constitution.

In his concluding reply, Union Home Minister Amit Shah rejected the allegations of opposition members, saying the Bill is a move to “end the atrocities against crores of migrants”.

“I assure that the Bill does not violate any article of the Constitution and that no citizen will be deprived of one’s rights. An attempt is being made to keep the Bill in bad light.”

“Every citizen has been given a place in the Bill on the basis of reasonable
classification,” he added.

Shah said the Bill seeks to provide Indian nationality to Hindus, Christians, Sikhs, Parsis, Jains and Buddhists fleeing persecution in Pakistan, Afghanistan and Bangladesh.

The Home Minister said that the Bill has been taken after analysing the Constitutions of Pakistan, Afghanistan and Bangladesh.

Referring to the Nehru-Liaquat Ali Khan agreement signed in 1950 after the Partition of India, Shah said it was agreed to protect the rights of minorities, but only India followed it. Hindus, Christians, Sikhs, Parsis, Jains and Buddhists faced atrocities in Pakistan, Afghanistan and Bangladesh, he said.

Shah clarified that the Muslim community was not persecuted in the three Islamic countries, and the Bill specifically mentions to provide citizenship to six religious persecuted minorities.

“The people of the six minority communities who migrated to India following religious persecution in Pakistan, Bangladesh and Afghanistan will be given Indian citizenship as per this Bill. They are being given citizenship on the basis of reasonable classification. The Bill does not violate Article 14 of the Indian Constitution,” Shah said.

He also said the Bill is not against the Muslim community and that if any Muslim seeks citizenship in India based on rules, he will be entertained as per the Article of the Bill.

“The Bill does not affect the Muslims residing in this country. The Muslims residing here will not face any problem. They live with dignity and will live with the same dignity,” Shah said.

He declared that Manipur would be brought under the Inner Line Permit (ILP) regime and with that the problems of all the northeastern states would be taken care of as mentioned in the Citizenship Bill.

He said that Arunachal Pradesh, Mizoram and Nagaland, leaving few parts, are ILP protected.

The Home Minister reassured that no provision of Article 371 would be violated by this Bill and the Article will never be touched.

The linguistic, cultural and social identity of the people of the northeast would be preserved and this Bill contains the solution to the problems of the people of these states, as the provisions of the amendment have been incorporated after marathon deliberations with various stakeholders from the northeast for the last one month.

Shah said the provisions of the amendments to the Citizenship Act, 1955, which was enacted to provide for the acquisition and determination of Indian citizenship, would not apply to tribal areas of Assam, Meghalaya, Mizoram or Tripura as included in the Sixth Schedule to the Constitution and the area covered under “The Inner Line” notified under the Bengal Eastern Frontier Regulation, 1873.

The Bill, he said, also seeks to amend the Third Schedule to the Act to make applicants belonging to the six minority communities from the three countries eligible for citizenship by naturalisation if they can establish their residency in India for five years instead of the existing eleven years.

Shah said the Bill no where targets India’s minority community, but illegal immigrants and Rohingyas would not be allowed to stay in the country at any cost.

The Home Minister said that there is no merit in the questions raised by members on the competence of the Parliament to discuss this Bill on the ground that it is against the basic structure and ethos of the Constitution. “I want to assure the nation that this Bill is not against any provision of the Constitution of India,” he said.

Shah also accused Congress of dividing the country on the basis of religion during Partition, saying “if the Congress had not done the Partition of the country based on religion, the government would not have brought the Citizenship Bill”.

Initiating the debate over the Bill, senior Congress leader Manish Tewari hit back at Shah for accusing the Congress for the Partition of the country on the basis of religion.

“I want to remind them that the idea of Partition on the basis of religion was first floated in 1935 in Ahmedabad by (Veer) Savarkar at a Hindu Mahasabha session, and not (by the) Congress,” he said.

Tewari said the Bill was against Articles 14, 15, 21, 25 and 26 of the Constitution, and against the basic right of equality. The Bill was also against the principles of B.R. Amedkar, he added.

AIMIM’s Asaduddin Owaisi tore a copy of the draft legislation in the Lok Sabh calling it “arbitrary in nature” and “against the Muslim community”.

“Another Partition is going to happen in the country. This Bill is against the Constitution of India and a disrespect to our freedom fighters. I tear the Bill, it is trying to divide our country,” Owaisi said.

(Rajnish Singh can be contacted at [email protected])

India

Jamia to Rajghat March on March 30 against CAA

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Amit Shah

New Delhi, Jan 23 After Home Minister Amit Shah refused to listen to protesters who are opposing Citizenship Law, NRC and NPR, the Jamia Coordination Committee (JCC) announced to take out Jamia-to-Rajghat march on January 30, the protest against the amended Citizenship Act .

Police which is under the control of Amit Shah will again try to crackdown on protests as the government has turned its deaf ear to the protesters demand.

The march will be led by women and the JCC aims to involve people from around the city. To boost participation, the JCC is planning to visit all anti-CAA sit-in sites here, including the Shaheen Bagh and the Khajuri Khas.

A similar march was organised on December 15. But the agitators marching towards the Rashtrapati Bhawan turned violent and set ablaze public and private vehicles, and attacked public properties.

The Delhi Police then launched crackdown, entered the Jamia Millia Islamia campus and allegedly damaged a library.

Since then, the people are protesting against the police crackdown and the CAA outside Jamia’s gate number 7. Protests are also on in several areas, including Shaheen Bagh and Khajuri Khas.

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India

India terms Imran Khan’s act of raising Kashmir at Davos as ‘desperate’

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Raveesh Kumar

New Delhi, Jan 23: India has termed Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan’s attempt of raising Kashmir at Davos as ‘desperate act.’

“His remarks suggest that he is desperate and rapidly losing hope. The global community can now see through their double standards. While they pretend to be victims of terrorism on the one hand, they foster extremists who spread terrorism in India and other countries on the other,” External Affairs Ministry spokesperson Raveesh Kumar said.

He added that there was “nothing new” in what Imran Khan had said at the World Economic Forum meet in Davos, Switzerland.

Kumar also claimed that Pakistan’s attempts to create an “alarmist situation” in Kashmir have failed miserably.

“Our position on Kashmir has been clear and consistent through the years. These are bilateral issues that need to be discussed between India and Pakistan, and there is no role for a third party in this situation,” he said.

The External Affairs Ministry spokesperson also maintained that the World Economic Forum was not an appropriate platform to discuss such issues.

Imran Khan had urged international powers including the United Nations and the United States to help de-escalate tensions between India and Pakistan before things get to a point of no return.

“You cannot have two nuclear-armed countries even contemplating a conflict,” he said.

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Sonia, Priyanka visit Amethi, meet families of accident victims

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Sonia Gandhi

Amethi: Congress president Sonia Gandhi and party general secretary Priyanka Gandhi Vadra, on Thursday, reached Amethi to meet the families of six persons of a family who died in a road mishap.

The Gandhis made an unscheduled trip to Bharetha village in Amethi and met the bereaved family who had lost their family members, including the former village head, in the mishap.

The accident had taken place on Monday night when a truck collided with a Bolero on the Amethi-Gauriganj highway. The family in Bolero was returning to its village after attending a function in Gauriganj.

Earlier Sonia and Priyanka, who are on a two-day visit to Rae Bareli, met party workers and asked them to reach out to the people and expose the ruling BJP which is trying to mislead people on the issue of citizenship laws.

Sonia Gandhi asked party workers to raises local issues and continue to fight against injustice.

She said that the training being given by experts to newly elected party office bearers should be implemented at all costs. She also asked party men to focus on problems being faced by farmers and the youth in the state.

Sonia and Priyanka will be returning to Delhi on Thursday evening.

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