Citizenship Amendment Bill a 'Ghar Wapsi' Bill: Cong

The Congress has upped the ante on Citizenship (Amendment) Bill with its Manipur unit writing to Joint Parliamentary Committee (JPC) describing the proposed legislation as a 'Ghar Wapsi Bill' aimed at making the Northeast a "dumping ground" for Bangladeshi Hindus. File photo

The Congress has upped the ante on Citizenship (Amendment) Bill with its Manipur unit writing to Joint Parliamentary Committee (JPC) describing the proposed legislation as a 'Ghar Wapsi Bill' aimed at making the Northeast a "dumping ground" for Bangladeshi Hindus.

Demanding the withdrawal of the bill, which is under consideration of the JPC, former Manipur chief minister O Ibobi Singh and Manipur Congress president N Loken Singh said the bill is a threat to the cultural and linguistic identity of the indigenous people of the Northeast states and violates the secular principle of Constitution by seeking to grant citizenship on the basis of religion.

The Centre had in July 2016 moved the bill to amend The Citizenship Act, 1955, aiming to make illegal migrants from minority communities -- Hindus, Sikhs, Buddhists, Jains, Parsis and Christians -- in Pakistan, Bangladesh and Afghanistan" eligible for Indian citizenship while it excludes Muslims. As the Bill evoked criticism, it was referred to the JPC, which is yet to submit its report to Parliament.

In a memorandum submitted to the JPC last Tuesday, the Congress said many "illegal economic immigrants" would become Indian citizens if it is passed and it posed a "grave threat" to the region. Describing it as a "suicidal move", it said, “being a bordering state with Bangladesh, Assam will be worst affected...our language, culture and small tribes will face extinction.”

“The Centre should respect the sentiments and the aspirations of the indigenous communities and not vitiate the already fragile atmosphere in the north-east. India is not like Israel, which is a Jewish state...the amendment tries to bring 'Hindu Rashtra' into the legal framework through back-door,” it said.

“By inviting Hindus from three neighbouring countries especially to come to India with a grant of citizenship, it is a 'Ghar Vapsi' Bill of sorts,” it said in a reference to Hindutva groups attempt to re-convert those who left Hindu-fold.

The memorandum questioned the intention of the government, saying if it was a humanitarian move, why citizenship is not being granted to atheists facing persecution or Ahmadiyas and Sufis in Pakistan.

"The Bill should be withdrawn. We will fight this bill tooth and nail," Ibobi Singh, who led a delegation earlier this week to the capital to impress upon President Ram Nath Kovind, Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Home Minister Rajnath Singh as well as the JPC about their concerns, has said.

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Citizenship Amendment Bill a 'Ghar Wapsi' Bill: Cong

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