Changes to law on citizenship unfair

The visit of a Joint Parliamentary Committee (JPC) to Assam for hearings on the NDA government’s Citizenship Amendment Bill, 2016, has caused widespread concern and protests in the state. The JPC completed one round of hearings on the bill last fortnight and might hold one more. The concern among large sections of people, political parties, civil society groups and others is that the provisions of the bill, if it becomes a law, would badly hurt the interests of the state by bestowing citizenship on a large number of Bangladeshi Hindus. The bill proposes to grant citizenship to adherents of six religions, including the Hindus, from Bangladesh, Pakistan and Afghanistan even if they are illegal migrants, but deny that right to Muslims. The reason given is that the members of these religions suffer persecution in these countries because they are minorities. The government wants to consider them as refugees who deserve citizenship but the same consideration will be denied to Muslims.

The bill has aggravated the fears among the people of Assam about being overwhelmed by outsiders, specifically Bangladeshi migrants. They had staged an agitation in the 1970s and 1980s for identification and deportation of illegal Bangladeshi migrants. It resulted in the signing of the Assam Accord in 1985 which provided for the deportation of all post-1971 migrants. The process of identification of illegal migrants is still going on. The provisions of the bill are against the Assam Accord. The people of the state are against granting residence or citizenship rights to any migrants because they fear that their language, culture, lifestyles and economy are all under threat from the outsiders, whether they are Muslims or Hindus. The Asom Gana Parishad (AGP), which had led the Assam agitation, is now part of the BJP-led government in the state. It has threatened to withdraw from the government and the NDA if the bill is passed. The AGP has said that the bill undermines the secular traditions of the Assamese society.

The bill, in fact, violates the idea of secularism that underlies the Constitution. The Constitution does not discriminate against any person or confer benefits on any person on the basis of religion. The bill is unlikely to pass the test of constitutionality but the government is pushing ahead with it. If persecution is the ground for granting citizenship there are others also who deserve it like the Ahmediya Muslims in Pakistan. The government does not want the Rohingyas in Myanmar who are badly persecuted in that country to be allowed into the country. So persecution is not the real reason for offering citizenship to Hindus and others. The bill is therefore unfair and discriminatory.

Liked the story?

  • 0

    Happy
  • 0

    Amused
  • 0

    Sad
  • 0

    Frustrated
  • 0

    Angry

Comments:

Changes to law on citizenship unfair

0 comments

Write the first review for this !