Amid reports that the union government is likely to introduce the Citizenship Amendment Bill in the parliament in the coming days, Union Home Minister Amit Shah on Tuesday held a meeting with the leaders of the North-eastern states to allay their concerns over the bill which intends to provide citizenship to persecuted religious minorities from neighbouring countries.
According to reports, the Tuesday night meeting with the leaders of the region is the third meeting in the series between Union Home Minister Amit Shah, senior leaders of the regions, activists and civil society organisations over the issue of Citizen Amendment Bill.
Earlier during the day, Assam minister and BJP leader Himanta Biswa Sarma said the meeting on Tuesday is the final round in the series. “Today is the final round of meeting with Assam, Manipur and Nagaland. After this, the framework of Citizenship Amendment Bill (CAB) will be formulated. Union Home Minister Amit Shah has indicated that CAB will be introduced in this Parliament session,” Sarma said.
Himanta Biswa Sarma had said that Citizenship Amendment Bill will come before the Parliament in a positive environment and also he said that he hoped all the remaining confusion will also go away once the draft of Citizenship Amendment Bill is out in the public.
Earlier, Home Minister Amit Shah had met politicians and organisations from the northeastern states on Tuesday to understand their concerns over the proposed law. Amit Shah had also held discussions with the representatives of students’ bodies and civil society groups of Assam on the CAB. Chief Minister of Assam Sarbananda Sonowal, too, attended the meetings. Mizoram CM Zoramthanga also called on Shah.
The groups, including the All Assam Students Union, had informed their concerns regarding the proposed bill to the Home Minister Shah. They reportedly said that the proposed law if enacted, could affect the indigenous people of the northeast.
Meanwhile, the BJP on Tuesday has informed all its MPs to be present in the House in large numbers in the coming days and said the Bill is as important as the law that abrogated controversial Article 370.
Reportedly, Defence Minister Rajnath Singh, while addressing the weekly meeting of BJP MPs indicated that the Bill is expected to be tabled in the Parliament next week and the government expects it to be passed before December 10.
“The Citizenship (Amendment) Bill is coming soon. It is very important to get it passed,” Defence Minister Singh reportedly stated to the BJP MPs.
Dismissing the Opposition’s objections over the bill, Singh said that the BJP had always worked to unite the country and its people. “If religious minorities are being persecuted in those countries, it is our duty to deliver justice to them. It should not be linked to any religion,” he said.
The Amendment Bill seeks to amend the Citizenship Act, 1955, in order to grant Indian nationality to Hindus, Sikhs, Buddhists, Jains, Parsis, and Christians, who come to India because of religious persecution in Bangladesh, Pakistan, and Afghanistan even if they do not possess proper documents.
A section of people and organisations in the northeast have apprehensions about the Bill, arguing that it will nullify the provisions of the Assam Accord of 1985, which fixed March 24, 1971, as the cut-off date for genuine Indian citizens in Assam, irrespective of religion.
The CAB will propose to amend the definition of illegal migrants, reduction in the number of years of residency period to obtain Indian citizenship through naturalisation and empower the Centre to cancel the registration of Overseas Citizen of India card in case of any violation.