The Lok Sabha Tuesday passed the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill 2019 amid protests by Opposition parties including Congress and TMC. The Bill, that proposes to grant Indian citizenship to non-muslim minority immigrants from Afghanistan, Bangladesh and Pakistan who have entered India before December 31, 2014, was first cleared by a joint parliamentary committee and then tabled in Lok Sabha by Home Minister Rajnath Singh.
However, the introduction of the Bill saw objections from Congress. Senior Congress leader Mallikarjun Kharge requested the Speaker to send the Citizenship Bill to a select committee as it was related to the Constitution. “Many people have reservations about the bill,” Kharge said. He also highlighted the unrest in Assam over the Bill as it does not address the Assam Accord. With Speaker Sumitra Mahajan not paying heed to the demand, the party walked out of the session.
Trinamool Congress MP Saugata Roy said the Citizenship Bill would “lead to fires” not just in Assam, but in the entire northeast. He added the Bill might create divisions and that the select committee had shot down all suggested amendments.
However, defending the Bill, Rajnath Singh said it will be implemented across India. “The Bill will safeguard the interests of Assam. The government ensures protection to minorities. Misinformation is being spread against the Bill. It is not biased towards any religion,” he added.
Meanwhile, back in Assam, the protest over the Citizenship Bill turned violent as protestors clashed with the police, gheraoed Chief Minister Sarbananda Sonowal’s house at his native place in Dibrugarh, blocked national highways and damaged vehicles during the bandh called by the All Assam Students’ Union (AASU).
The Citizenship (Amendment) Bill 2016 was cleared by the Union cabinet on Monday leading to the exit of Asom Gana Parishad (AGP) from the BJP-led coalition in Assam government. Following this, things came to a boil in Assam with the entire northeast coming together for an 11-hour bandh against the Bill.