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Govt Introduces Citizenship Bill in Lok Sabha Amid Country-Wide Protests

‘Divisive’ and ‘anti-constitutional’, say Opposition parties while protesting introduction of Bill. Assam, Tripura see intensified protests and rallies.
CAB Protest

New Delhi: Amid protests erupting in several parts of the country, especially in the North East, Union Home Minister Amit Shah on Monday introduced the controversial Citizenship (Amendment) Bill 2019 in the Lok Sabha on Monday.

There were reports of protest rallies in the capital, as well as in Assam, Manipur, Bengaluru, Hyderabad etc., with several North East groups also calling for a ‘Bandh’ on December 9.

The Bill, termed as “divisive” and “anti-constitutional” by the Opposition parties, seeks to grant citizenship --  barring Muslims -- to Hindus, Sikhs, Buddhists, Jains, Parsis and Christians from Afghanistan, Bangladesh and Pakistan after seven years of stay in the country even if they do not possess proper documents. 

Introducing the Bill, Home Minister and Bharatiya Janata Party president Shah said the Congress "divided" the country on the basis of religion that is why it was necessary to bring the Bill, claiming that the Bill was not against minorities but “infiltrators.”

"This Bill is not even .001% against minorities. It is against infiltrators," Shah said while introducing the Bill.

Earlier in the day, protests were held in Parliament complex and elsewhere in the city and the country against the CAB.

 While Indian Union Muslim League MPs protested in front of the Mahatma Gandhi statue in Parliament premises, the All India United Democratic Front (AIUDF) demonstrated at Jantar Mantar and held up placards saying that the Bill was against the ‘idea of India’. 

"We reject this Bill. It is against the Constitution and against Hindu-Muslim unity," Badruddin Ajmal, AIUDF MP from Dhubri, Assam, told reporters when asked about the CAB. 

Sitaram Yechury, the general secretary of Communist Party of India (Marxist) has already announced that his party would move two amendments on the Bill.

Addressing a press conference on Sunday, Yechury said the party would move amendments seeking deletion of all those clauses that specify religion as the basis of giving citizenship.

"We strongly oppose the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill which gives citizenship on the basis of religion, that also to people from three countries," Yechury said, adding that people of all religions must get equal treatment in India. 

In Lok Sabha, Opposition leaders Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury, Saugata Roy, N K Premchandran, Gaurav Gogoi, Shashi Tharoor, Assaduddin Owaisi opposed the introduction of the Bill, saying it was violative of various provisions of the Constitution, including move to grant citizenship on the basis on religion.

Owaisi also appealed to the Speaker to “save country from such a law & save Home Minister also otherwise like in Nuremberg race laws and Israel's citizenship Act, Home Minister's name will be featured with Hitler and David Ben-Gurion.”

The Bill was introduced after a division of votes for which 293 MPs voted in favour and 82 voted against. The ruling National Democratic Alliance led by BJP has a majority in the Lower House. 

In Assam, the Bill has been facing huge protests as the people say that it will nullify the provisions of the Assam Accord of 1985, which fixed March 24, 1971, as the cut-off date for deportation of all illegal immigrants irrespective of religion. Some reports said people expressed their protest by writing slogans with blood on the walls against CAB.

Protests were held in all major cities of Assam on Sunday, with shops being closed in Guwahati following a shutdown call by various organisations opposing the Bill. In Agartala and West Bengal also protests broke out.

West Bengal Chief Minister on Monday reiterated that National Register of Citizens and (NRC) and CAB would be never allowed in Bengal as long as the Trinamool Congress was in power.

."There is no need to worry about NRC and CAB. We will never ever allow it in Bengal. They can't just throw out a legal citizen of this country or turn him/her a refugee," Banerjee said while addressing a rally.

Tripura, too, came to a grinding halt on Monday morning as the 12-hour bandh against CAB saw IPFT activists blocking the national highway and railway from Monday morning, as per reports. The bandh has been called by BJP ally and ruling partner, the separatist group, Indigenous People’s Front of Tripura (IPFT) in the Tripura Tribal Areas Autonomous District Council.


(With inputs from PTI)

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