Lok Sabha creates history by passing the citizenship amendment bill

By Sarkaritel January 8, 2019 17:34

By TN Ashok

New Delhi, Jan 08 : The Lok Sabha, the lower house in Indian Parliament, today created history by adopting a controversial and yet contentious law to give citizenship to non-Muslims from Pakistan, Bangladesh and Afghanistan amid  severe dissent by several opposition parties, including the Congress and the Left Front. Most parties from the northeast, even those that were allies of the BJP, also strongly opposed Bill, saying it was “against the fundamental aspects of the Indian constitution”.

North Eastern India literally went under a lock down today protesting  the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill, 2016 that left  five people injured. Assam has been witnessing protests since the NDA government said it was going ahead with the controversial bill and yesterday, Ashom Gana Parishad, a regional ally of the BJP, exited the ruling coalition in Assam. The state has been witnessing protests since the NDA government said it was going ahead with the controversial bill, a leading TV channel reported.

Today, moments after the bill was passed, Assam’s BJP spokesperson Mehdi Alam Bora resigned all party posts in protest. The Citizenship (Amendment) Bill, 2016 will amend the laws governing citizenship, formed in 1955, to grant Indian nationality to Hindus, Sikhs, Buddhists, Jains, Parsis and Christians, who fled religious persecution from the three neighbouring countries and entered India before December 31, 2014. The political parties and the civil society opposing the proposed law say it would sanction citizenship to illegal Hindu migrants from Bangladesh, who came to the state after March 1971, in violation to the Assam Accord, 1985. Illegal migration is a sensitive issue in the northeast, where tribals and other ethnic communities wish to keep out the outsiders.

“The burden of those persecuted migrants will be shared by the whole country. Assam alone should not have to bear the entire burden,” Union minister Rajnath Singh said while responding to the debate on the bill. “The government of India is committed to give all help to the state government and people of Assam,” he said.

The opposition parties say the bill links religion to citizenship and want it to be “religion and country neutral”.”Some people ask why Christians were included in the bill. But they have also suffered since the partition, so we have included them in the amended bill. How can there be a more secular bill,” the minister pointed out.


As the BJP-led Union government battled with the opposition over the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill-2016 in the Lok Sabha Tuesday, some of the theatrics leaked onto the parliament lawns — becoming a little more literal in the process. The Trinamool Congress presented a protest skit that had a number of lawmakers, dressed in black, pretending to cower in fear as a colleague wearing a Narendra Modi mask hit them repeatedly with a stick, a leading TV channel NDTV reported. .


The bill, which aims to make illegal migrants of the Hindu, Sikh, Buddhist, Jain, Parsi and Christian communities eligible for Indian citizenship, hasbeen opposed by opposition parties as well as the BJP’s allies in the northeast. The Congress walked out of the house soon after Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh tabled the legislation today, alleging that a bill which discriminates on the basis of religion goes against the preamble of the Constitution. The party has termed the bill as a “political ploy to divide and rule” northeast India. The bill however saw smooth passage in the Lok Sabha.

The BJP is facing resistance in the northeast too, with protest marches being taken out across its expanse. While the Ashom Gana Parishad broke ties with the BJP in Assam on Monday, unidentified people hurled molotov cocktails at the party’s Meghalaya headquarters a day ago.

Terming the proposed amendment to the bill as an “attack on the country’s secular fabric”, the Trinamool Congress said it would oppose the move with all its might in parliament. “How can there be discrimination on the basis of religion? You will be eligible if you are Hindu but kept out if you are Muslim? Our Constitution does not allow this,” party member Saugato Roy was quoted by the news agency PTI as saying.

Tuesday’s novel protest was another step forward in the party’s plan to oppose the amendment. “We enacted this skit to illustrate how the centre is forcing this bill on the people against their will,” said one of the protesting parliamentarians.

The BJP, however, remains firm in its resolve to amend the law. “I strongly believe that if this bill is not passed, Assamese Hindus will become a minority in the next five years. That will be advantageous for elements who want Assam to be another Kashmir,” Assam Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma said on Monday.

PM Modi’s speech in support of the proposed amendment at Assam’s Silchar recently had provoked a statewide backlash against the BJP, despite his claim that it was “not for anyone’s benefit”.

By Sarkaritel January 8, 2019 17:34