India's external spy agency Research and Analysis Wing (R&AW) had expressed "great concern" over the possibility of intelligence agencies like the Pakistan's ISI exploiting the legal framework provided by the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill to push their "own people" into the country.
The R&AW's concerns were placed before a Joint Committee of Parliament, which scrutinised the now lapsed Citizenship (Amendment) Bill, 2016 earlier when one of its Joint Secretary deposed before the panel headed by BJP MP Rajendra Agrawal.
"...our only concern has been that the agencies who are inimical to us should not have a legal framework within which they can exploit our situation and infiltrate their own people into our own country. That is a matter of great concern for us," the R&AW official was quoted as saying in the panel report placed in Parliament in January this year.
Sources said the agencies were concerned that Pakistan's ISI could use the provisions in the Bill to push their recruits posing as a Pakistani or a Bangladeshi non-Muslim to attain citizenship and use them against India.
The panel had heard extensively the submissions of R&AW and Intelligence Bureau officials during its deliberations. This Bill, though passed in the previous Lok Sabha, lapsed as it was not cleared by the Rajya Sabha before the Lower House's term ended in May this year.
The government has come up with a new Bill, which is listed for introduction and passage in Lok Sabha on Monday, with new provisions that exclude the ambit of the proposed legislation in areas which is under Inner Line Permit regime and those covered under Sixth Schedule to address the concerns of north-east states.
The Bill, a poll promise of the ruling BJP, allows a non-Muslim without proper travel documents from Pakistan, Bangladesh and Afghanistan to acquire Indian citizenship if they could prove their residency in India for five years as against six years prescribed in the previous version of the proposed legislation.
In their deposition before the panel, the Intelligence Bureau officials had said that the immediate beneficiaries of the Bill would be 31,313 people Hindus and other minority community members from Pakistan, Afghanistan and Bangladesh.
"As per our records, 31,313 persons belonging to minority communities who have been given Long Term Visas on the basis of their claim of religious persecution in their respective countries and want Indian citizenship. Hence, these persons will be immediate beneficiaries," it had said. Among the 31,313, it said, 25,447 are Hindus, 5,807 are Sikhs, 55 Christians and two each Buddhists and Parsis.
The agency had said that there is "no security implications" if citizenship is given under the new amendment as "all these persons are already living in the country for decades".