Citizenship Amendment Bill likely in Cabinet on Dec 4

The meeting of the Cabinet chaired by Prime Minister Narendra Modi will be held at 9:30 am. (PTI photo)

The controversial Citizenship (Amendment) Bill seeks to grant citizenship to non-Muslim refugees from Pakistan, Bangladesh and Afghanistan is likely to come up before Union Cabinet on Wednesday.

The meeting of the Cabinet chaired by Prime Minister Narendra Modi will be held at 9:30 am, sources said adding it may be cleared for introduction in Parliament.

The previous Citizenship (Amendment) Bill 2016 lapsed with the dissolution of the previous Lok Sabha. While the Lok Sabha had passed it after the Bill was scrutinised by a Joint Committee of Parliament, it could not clear the Rajya Sabha as there were a widespread protest in the north-eastern states, especially in Assam.

The bill, which is an election promise of the ruling BJP, seeks to amend the Citizenship Act 1955 to grant Indian nationality to persecuted Hindus, Sikhs, Buddhists, Jains, Parsis and Christians in Bangladesh, Pakistan and Afghanistan even if they don't possess proper documents.

Sources said the new Bill is likely to assuage the concerns of north-eastern states by excluding areas protected by the Inner Line Permit (ILP) regime and areas which are governed under the Sixth Schedule of the Constitution.

People from other states need ILP to visit Arunachal Pradesh, Nagaland and Mizoram while the Sixth Schedule deals with the administration of tribal areas Assam, Meghalaya, Tripura and Mizoram.

The ILP system is in place to prevent settlement of other Indian nationals in three states to protect the indigenous population and keeping these areas out of the new Bill will ensure that those given citizenship under it cannot settle in these three states.

The importance the BJP gives to the Bill was underscored by Defence Minister Rajnath Singh during his speech at the BJP Parliamentary Party meeting here on Tuesday.

While equating the Bill with the move to revoke special status of Jammu and Kashmir under Article 370, Singh sought to blunt the Opposition concerns that it was meant to exclude Muslims. The Opposition is also against providing citizenship on the basis of religion, saying it goes against the Constitutional values.

In BJP's defence Singh said, Pakistan, Bangladesh and Afghanistan are essentially Islamic nations and non-Muslims are at the receiving end of religious persecution there.

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