The Union Cabinet yesterday cleared the final draft of the Citizenship Amendment Bill (CAB) 2019 cornering all the protest that the bill has attracted. The bill which has attracted angry response from citizens and opposition parties would be soon placed in Loksabha.
The politics over the Citizenship Amendment Bill and the support it’s getting from non NDA parties reminds us that our political leaders cannot uphold our Constitution. Just like the opposition’s failure on Kashmir. Less said about the courts the better— Nidhi Razdan (@Nidhi) December 5, 2019
While you might wonder what’s there with passing of an amendment bill here’s all that you need to know to understand the protests and anger against the CAB and what the bill tries to achieve.
The Citizenship Amendment Bill 2019 aims to amend the Citizenship Act of 1955 which regulates the grant and renouncement of Indian Citizenship. As per the CAB 2019 people from Hindu, Sikh, Jain Buddhist, Christian and Parsi faiths who entered India from Afghanistan, Bangladesh and Pakistan would be seen eligible for acquiring the Indian citizenship provided they were forced or compelled to seek shelter in India due to persecution on the ground of religion.
Let's be clear. The #CitizenshipAmendmentBill is less about rehabilitating non-Muslim immigrants from neighbouring countries as citizens. It is more about assuring (non-Muslim) citizens of India that they need not worry even if their names are excluded in NRC.— Umar Khalid (@UmarKhalidJNU) December 5, 2019
Such persons not having proof of birth of parents can apply for Indian citizenship after six years of residence in India. The bill also aims to shield such people from proceedings of illegal migration. The cut-off date for people to be eligible for citizenship is December 31, 2014. This means they need to have entered India on or before that date.
Sectarian In Nature
The first and foremost issue with the bill is that its definition of illegal immigrants is sectarian in nature. The bill grants citizenship on the basis of religion and leaves behind only those immigrants who are Muslim. The bill says that citizenship would be provided to those immigrants who were “forced or compelled to seek shelter in India due to persecution on the ground of religion”.
However, Rohingya Muslims who are the most executed community and have fled to Bangladesh and India from Maynmar are not eligible for citizenship as per the bill. Further, Muslim sects such as Shia and Ahmadiyya, whose members face persecution in Pakistan would also not be eligible for Indian citizenship.
There is no doubt that the proposed Citizenship amendment bill which allows citizenship on the basis of religion is opposed to the basic structure of our Secular Republic which prohibits discrimination on the basis of religion. Will be struck down https://t.co/weW7PdMQfa— Prashant Bhushan (@pbhushan1) December 5, 2019
The very nature of the bill also goes against the basic structure of our Secular Republic as described by the Constitution which prohibits discrimination on the basis of religion.
Protest In Assam
Apart from the sectarian nature of the bill protests have been raised by people of Assam and other north-eastern states against the bill. Many groups in Assam feel that the CAB would nullify the 1985 Assam Accord, which fixed March 24, 1971, as the cut-off date for deportation of all illegal immigrants irrespective of religion.
They also say that the NRC (National Register of Citizen) process was aimed against all illegal immigrants and the CAB will selectively benefit non-Muslim migrants into Assam. Those who oppose the bill argue that Assam will be a “victim” in view of its immediate proximity to Bangladesh.
Now, with the government looking to get the bill passed in the winter session of the house it is quite likely to attract the resistance from opposition parties led by Congress against the bill.
Govt is bringing Citizenship Amendment Bill only to enable an NRC. An NRC which will convert Hindu migrants enjoying citizenship rights right now into illegal immigrants & then to refugees if they are able to prove they came from Pak. Don't fall for the trap. #NoToNRC #NoToCAB— Kannan Gopinathan (@naukarshah) December 5, 2019
The CAB was earlier introduced in the Lok Sabha on July 15, 2016. It was passed during the winter session of the Lower House on January 8, but it lapsed as it was not tabled in the Rajya Sabha, which adjourned sine die on February 13. The bill would face resistance from North-Eastern states in Rajyasabhha and might get stuck in the upper house as the government doesn’t have the majority there.