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Panel on citizenship Bill likely to table report on January 7

Protesters claim the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill 2016, is a ploy to nullify the Assam Accord. File photo

Protesters claim the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill 2016, is a ploy to nullify the Assam Accord. File photo  

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It proposes citizenship to persecuted minorities barring Muslims from Pakistan, Afghanistan and Bangladesh

The joint committee on Citizenship Amendment Bill 2016, which proposes citizenship to persecuted minorities barring Muslims from Pakistan, Afghanistan and Bangladesh, is likely to table its report on January 7 on penultimate day of the winter session of Parliament as the panel on Monday cleared the report rejecting all amendments moved by the Opposition.

At Monday’s meeting, out of 30 members, all the 13 BJP members were present. And only six opposition members were present. The draft report will be circulated on January 3 and it will be tabled on January 7. The Opposition is now planning to file dissent notes to the joint committee’s report.

Six minorities

The report will clear decks for the legislation to become a reality. The Bill proposes citizenship to six persecuted minorities — Hindus, Jains, Sikhs, Parsis, Christians and Buddhists from Pakistan, Afghanistan and Bangladesh who came to India before 2014. There has been a strong resistance to the Bill in BJP-ruled Assam as it would pave the way for giving citizenship, mostly to illegal Hindu migrants from Bangladesh in Assam, who came after March 1971, in violation of the agreement of the Assam Accord, 1985. Around 40 lakh people in Assam have been excluded from the final draft of the National Register of Citizens (NRC) published on July 30.

TMC plea

Rejected amendments include those moved by Trinamool Congress MP Saugata Roy to make the legislation religion and country-neutral. Mr. Roy said the Bill should not limit itself to six religions. It should instead say that any person who leaves his country due to religious, linguistic and ethnic discrimination should be eligible for the Indian citizenship. He also moved that Afghanistan, Bangladesh and Pakistan should not be the only countries named in it, since we have huge number of refugees from Sri Lanka and Myanmar too.

The Opposition was stumped when the committee under the chairmanship of BJP MP from Meerut, Rajendra Agarwal, called for meeting on one day’s notice.

Maintain silence

The two BJP members from Assam, Ramen Deka and Kamkhya Prasad Tasa, have been maintaining studied silence on the Bill in the meetings of the Joint Parliamentary Committee. The BJP government in Assam is fiercely opposed to the Bill. The BJP’s ally Assom Gana Parishad too has been protesting against it and has claimed to walk out of the alliance if the Bill is passed.

The committee has cleared an amendment moved by BJP MP Meenakshi Lekhi seeking to drop legal proceedings against six persecuted minorities. The amendment, if accepted, could mean that Bangladeshi Hindus lodged in detention centres in Assam, facing deportation or declared illegal foreigners would get relief.

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Printable version | Jan 27, 2020 9:41:41 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/panel-on-citizenship-bill-likely-to-table-report-on-january-7/article25873970.ece

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