After over seven-hour-long debate, the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill was passed in the Lok Sabha that seeks to grant citizenship to refugees from the Hindu, Christian, Buddhist, Sikh and Zoroastrian communities fleeing religious persecution from Pakistan, Bangladesh and Afghanistan. The Bill was passed 311-80 with zero abstentions after the Opposition put up a spirited attack against it.
It is of utmost importance to provide relief to thousands of helpless Sikhs, Hindus, Christians and adherents of other faiths fleeing from state sponsored persecution and violence in Pakistan and Bangladesh. It is indeed a real test for political parties. Politics apart, will decide where their soul, heart, mind and vision is. The present set of parliamentarians must be congratulated for initiation to set right a Himalayan blunder of partition. Opposition must introspect whether they are willing to repeat the blunder. Citizenship Bill is an impartial positive step taken up by the Centre to help those who possesses the eligibility with their birth right and it will benefit if properly implemented. It is a right step in the right direction.
This is a simple amendment but hits at illegal migrants. This will benefit the Bengali refugees the most. There is no need to fear as of now. And anyone who has or does not have document is welcome. Refugees need not fear but those coming here illegally are not welcome. The majority of parties representing the northeastern States supported the Bill, as their concerns had been taken care of.
Constitutional validity of the Bill is subject to scrutiny by Supreme Court. However the Bill has the merit of safe guarding persecution of minorities in Pakistan, Afghanistan and Bangladesh who used to come to India as refugees. Opposition parties outcry is not acceptable and some of them are staunch anti-Hindus. After all, the two nation theory was based on religious lines. It was the stupidity of Jawaharlal Nehru and Liaquat Ali Khan for not insisting complete population exchange. The treaty was worthless as the paper on which it was written on. Hindus were wiped out in Pakistan whereas, the Muslims flourished in India. As a result, we are faced to bear the brunt of unequal population and stress on limited resources, not to mention terrorism.
Millions of citizens of undivided India belonging to various faiths were staying in the said areas of Pakistan and Bangladesh when India was partitioned in 1947. The constitutions of Pakistan, Afghanistan and Bangladesh provide for a specific state religion. As a result, many persons belonging to Hindu, Sikh, Buddhist, Jain, Parsi and Christian communities have faced persecution on grounds of religion in those countries. Some of them also have fears about such persecution in their day-to-day lives where right to practice, profess and propagate their religion has been obstructed and restricted. Many such persons have fled to India to seek shelter and continued to stay in the country even if their travel documents have expired or they have incomplete or no documents.
Lok Sabha has passed the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill, 2019 after a rich and extensive debate. I thank the various MPs and parties that supported the Bill. This Bill is in line with India’s centuries old ethos and has strong belief in humanitarian values.
(The views expressed by the author in the article are his/her own.)