Lok Sabha clears the controversial Citizenship (Amendment) Bill

Amidst a very heated, controversial and extensive 12-hour debate, Citizenship Amendment Bill, 2019 was passed in the Lok Sabha on December 10 at 12:11 am with 311 MP votes in favour and 80 against the bill.

Crux of the Matter
  • Home Minister Amit Shah introduced the bill at 11 am in the Lok Sabha.
  • In his opening remarks, he said, “The people of the six minority communities who migrated to India following religious persecution in Pakistan, Bangladesh and Afghanistan will be given Indian citizenship as per this Bill. The Bill does not violate Article 14 of the Indian Constitution.”
  • The parties namely Indian National Congress, Trinamool Congress, RSP, TRS, SP, CPM, NCP, BSP, DMK, AIMIM, IUML opposed the Bill citing various articles of Constitution especially Article 14.
  • Senior MPs Manish Tewari, Shashi Tharoor, Supriya Sule, Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury expressed their views strongly against the bill calling it discriminatory.
  • Opposing and tearing the copy of the bill AIMIM MP Asaduddin Owaisi said, “The government is hatching a conspiracy by the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill and the NRC to make Muslims stateless.”
  • Questioning the opposition, Shah said, “If this bill violates Article 14 (equality before law), then why do minorities get special privileges in this country.”
  • The Home Minister assured that the Bill protects the northeastern states under the Sixth Schedule and the areas covered under ‘The Inner Line’ of permit and Article 371 will not be touched.
  • The bill excludes Arunachal Pradesh, Nagaland and Mizoram, almost the whole of Meghalaya, and parts of Assam and Tripura.
  • While the bill was being discussed in the Lok Sabha there were protests happening in Assam, Agartala and many parts of the northeast.
  • In the concluding remarks after the passage of the bill, Amit Shah said, “NRC is coming soon and with the passing of this Bill, lakhs of people will get rid of torturous life.”

East Bengali Refugees are people who left East Bengal following the Partition of Bengal, which was part of the Independence of India and Pakistan in 1947. An overwhelming majority of these refugees and immigrants were Bengali Hindus. During the Bangladesh liberation war in 1971 with West Pakistan, an estimated 10 million people of East Pakistan (present-day Bangladesh) fled the country and took refuge in India particularly in the Indian states of West Bengal and Indian North East region. The exact number of refugees has never been officially collected and estimates vary considerably. In the immediate aftermath of partition, commonly attributed figures suggest around 3 million East Bengalis migrating to India and 864,000 migrants from India to East Pakistan. As per the Refugee Relief and Rehabilitation Department of the Government of West Bengal, the census figures show the number of refugees from East Pakistan in 1971 was nearly 6 million and in 1981, the number was assessed at 8 million. More Info