The Citizenship Amendment Bill, 2019, was passed in the Lok Sabha on Tuesday.
The bill, which was introduced by Home Minister Rajnath Singh, will facilitate the acquisition of citizenship by six identified minority communities namely Hindus, Sikhs, Jains, Buddhists, Christians and Parsis from Afghanistan, Pakistan and Bangladesh who came to India before 31 December 2014.
The proposed amendment in the bill will make these persecuted migrants eligible to apply for citizenship. Under the proposed amendment, the minimum residency period for citizenship is being reduced from the existing 12 years under the present law to 7 years. However, citizenship will be given to them only after due scrutiny and recommendation of district authorities and the state government.
The Bill will apply to all states and union territories of the country and the beneficiaries of the Citizenship Amendment Bill can reside in any state of the country.
Dispelling the misgivings about Citizenship Amendment Act, Singh clarified that the Act is not confined to Assam and will provide relief to persecuted migrants who have come through western borders of the country to States like Gujarat, Rajasthan, Delhi, Madhya Pradesh, and other states.
“I want to clarify that the Citizenship Amendment Bill is not for Assam alone or for the betterment of migrants coming from a particular country. This Bill is also for migrants who have come from the Western borders and have settled down in Rajasthan, Punjab, Delhi, and Rajasthan,” Singh said while introducing the bill in the lower house.
Singh further said that the burden of those persecuted migrants will be shared by the whole country, and Assam alone should not have to bear the entire burden. “Government of India is committed to give all help to the state government and people of Assam,” said Rajnath Singh.
The Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) had notified on 5 January a High-Level Committee consisting of eminent and knowledgeable persons from Assamese society with a very wide mandate to suggest such 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.
With regards to the National Register of Citizens (NRC), Singh said no discrimination will be made. All the necessary steps will be taken to deal with illegal migrants,” he added.