Home Minister Amit Shah, tabling the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill in the Rajya Sabha on Wednesday, said Muslims of the country need not fear, “they are and will remain citizens of the country”.
“There are attempts to spread misinformation that this bill is against Muslims. Let me put it on record that it is not. This bill is only for minority communities of neighbouring countries. It has nothing to do with Muslims in India,” Amit Shah said.
“Indian Muslims are safe and shall always remain safe. I appeal to the Indian Muslims that please do not fall for misinformation. Please do not be misguided. Please do not live in fear. Live fearlessly.”
The Citizenship (Amendment) Bill seeks to make it easier for non-Muslim migrants from Pakistan, Afghanistan and Bangladesh who entered the country before 2015 to become Indian citizens. The bill sailed through the Lok Sabha with 334 in favour and 106 votes against after a seven-hour debate on Monday.
“Some people are saying that we should give citizenship to anyone from neighbouring countries. These 3 neighbouring countries are Muslim majority nations and Islam is enshrined in their constitutions. Hence they cannot face religious persecution like other communities do. What are some people saying? That we should give citizenship to Muslims from Pakistan, Bangladesh and Afghanistan too? Should we make Muslims from across the world our citizens? How can this be? How can a country function like this,” Amit Shah questioned.
Opposition parties say the bill discriminates against Muslims and is therefore a violation of the tenets of equality and secularism enshrined in the constitution. The bill “hurts soul of India”, said the Congress’s Anand Sharma. “I am convinced that this bill is an assault at the very foundation of the Constitution of India. It hurts the very soul of the Constitution of India. It goes against the very preamble of the constitution,” he said.
The bill has also provoked massive protests in northeastern states, amid fear that it will encourage an influx from neighbouring Bangladesh and change the demographics of the region.
“The CAB is an attempt by Modi-Shah Govt to ethnically cleanse the North East. It is a criminal attack on the North East, their way of life and the idea of India. I stand in solidarity with the people of the North East and am at their service,” Rahul Gandhi, a Congress Lok Sabha MP, tweeted this morning. Amit Shah rebutted the Congress in Rajya Sabha. “The opposition keeps taking about Assam and its cultural identity. But tell me one thing, since independence and the Assam Accord, what had been done? I’ll tell you the truth… not even a committee was formed in this regard. What did you do in all these years,” he questioned.”This committee was set up for the first time after Narendra Modi was elected as Prime Minister in 2014. It shows who is serious about protecting the cultural identity of Assam and the northeast.”