Amit Shah holds meet with Assam leaders on CAB

Garhwa: Union Home Minister Amit Shah. (PTI Photo)

Home Minister Amit Shah on Tuesday held discussions with representatives of students' bodies and civil society groups of Assam on the proposed Citizenship Amendment Bill (CAB), sources said.

Chief Minister of Assam Sarbananda Sonowal is among those attending the meetings.

The groups, including the influential All Assam Students Union, are believed to have conveyed to the home minister their concerns on the bill and how the proposed legislation could affect the indigenous people of the Northeast, the sources said.

The bill seeks to amend the Citizenship Act, 1955, in order to grant Indian nationality to Hindus, Sikhs, Buddhists, Jains, Parsis and Christians, who come to India due to religious persecution in Bangladesh, Pakistan and Afghanistan even if they don't possess proper documents.

The consultations on CAB were initiated by the home minister on Friday and Saturday, and Tuesday's meetings were third such session on the subject.

Shah has convened the meetings in the wake of strong protests in the Northeast against the CAB.

A large section of people and a few organisations in the Northeast have opposed the bill, saying 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.

The Congress, Trinamool Congress, Communist Party of India (Marxist) and a few other political parties have been steadfastly opposing the bill, claiming that citizenship can't be given on the basis of religion.

Last week, 12 on-BJP MPs belonging to the Northeast urged Prime Minister Narendra Modi to exclude the northeastern states from the purview of the proposed bill, saying if it comes into effect the tribal population of the region will be vulnerable to displacement.

The BJP-led NDA government had introduced the bill in its previous tenure and got the Lok Sabha's approval. But the government did not introduce it in Rajya Sabha, apparently due to vehement protests in the Northeast.

The bill lapsed following the dissolution of the last Lok Sabha.

According to the previous bill, those who came to India on or before December 31, 2014, will benefit from the proposed legislation after it becomes an act.

There is a possibility to make changes to the cut-off date too, an official said.

The Modi government has listed the bill in its items of business for the ongoing Winter Session of Parliament and is set to push for its passage.

The BJP and its Hindutva affiliates have insisted that minorities from the three countries, which include a significant number of Hindus, should be granted Indian citizenship. 

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