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Citizenship Bill report to be tabled in Parliament today amid protests, fear of political fallout

The government has claimed that the proposed bill is intended for those escaping persecution and not for economic migrants

January 07, 2019 / 10:17 AM IST


A Joint Parliamentary Committee is set to submit its report on the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill, 2016 in the Lok Sabha on January 7.

With the Winter Session set to end on January 8, it is unclear if the bill would be taken up for consideration in the Lok Sabha.

The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) is keen on passing the bill. Earlier, Prime Minister Narendra Modi said his government was working to ensure the proposed legislation gets Parliament nod.

The committee had adopted the report on January 3 despite objections from some Opposition members. According to reports, the JPC rejected all amendment proposals proposed by the Opposition.

What is the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill?The Citizenship (Amendment) Bill, 2016, seeks to amend the Citizenship Act of 1955 to be able to grant citizenship by naturalisation to communities such as Hindus, Buddhists, Christians, Jains, Parsis and Sikhs, fleeing persecution in Afghanistan, Bangladesh and Pakistan.

Citizenship would be granted for those who have lived in India for six or more years, even if they do not have the required documents.

The government has argued that the bill is intended for those escaping persecution and not for economic migrants.

Also read: Citizenship Bill glimmer of hope for Hindu, Sikh refugees from Afghanistan

The Bill was referred to a joint select committee in August 2016, after it was discussed in the lower house of Parliament.

The idea gathered steam when the BJP promised to grant citizenship to Hindus persecuted in neighbouring countries during the 2014 Lok Sabha election campaign. The party had promised to welcome Hindu refugees and give shelter to them.

Also read: Citizenship (Amendment) Bill, 2016: All you need to know

Political falloutBJP is keen on passing the bill in Parliament ahead of Lok Sabha elections. However, its ally Shiv Sena, on January 6, said it would oppose the bill after the Asom Gana Parishad (AGP) appealed the Maharashtra-based party to do so.

The AGP — an ally of the BJP in Assam — had threatened to part ways with the saffron party if the Bill is passed. AGP does not have a single member in the Lok Sabha.

On January 5, protests erupted in Assam over the bill, a day after PM Modi said his government was working to ensure the proposed legislation gets Parliamentary nod.

Several indigenous organisations in the state have been opposing the bill as they believe it would harm their cultural identity.

Around 70 organisations, led by Krishak Mukti Sangram Samiti (KMSS), took out protest rallies in the state capital in the morning.

Communist Party of India (Marxist)’s Mohammad Salim, Biju Janata Dal (BJD)’s Bhartruhari Mahtab and Samajwadi Party (SP)’s Javed Ali Khan, all of whom are members of the joint committee, had submitted dissent notes.

Most opposition parties, including the Congress, have opposed the proposal of granting citizenship on the basis of religion. The opposition has argued that the move would nullify the process of updating the National Register of Citizens (NRC), which is currently under way in Assam.

(With inputs from PTI)

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