Lok Sabha on Tuesday passed the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill 2019, which seeks to amend the Citizenship Act, 1955 to make illegal migrants eligible for citizenship.
The illegal migrants include Hindus, Sikhs, Buddhists, Jains, Parsis and Christians from Afghanistan, Bangladesh and Pakistan.
Under the 1955 Act, one of the requirements for citizenship by naturalisation 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 six years for persons belonging to the all the six religions from the three countries.
Replying to a debate on the Bill in the Lok Sabha, Home Minister Rajnath Singh said, the bill is not just for Assam but for other states too. He said it is also for migrants who have come from the Western borders and have settled down in Rajasthan, Punjab and Delhi.
The Minister added that Assam is dealing with illegal migration for a long time now and the state’s burden is India’s burden. He said, it is the central government’s responsibility to protect the identity, culture of the Assamese people.
Earlier, while moving the bill, Mr Singh said, said the government is committed for National Register of Citizens (NRC).
The Minister also asserted that there will be no discrimination in NRC. He said the Centre has taken several measures to implement the Assam Accord.
The Minister said a High-Level Committee has been set up to suggest safeguards for the protection of the Assamese identity, including reservation in the State Assembly and in jobs. The committee will submit its report within six months.
Congress leader Mallikarjun Kharge demanded that the bill should be sent to the Select Committee of the House.
TMC leader Saugata Roy also echoed the same view.
Later, opposing the bill, members from Congress and TMC staged a walkout. CPI(M) member also opposed the bill.