Home Minister Amit Shah on Monday said that the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill was not targeting anyone and won’t promote any injustice as BJP-led government was committed to secularism enshrined in the constitution and believes that there should be no discrimination against any citizen on the basis of religion.
Moving the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill, 2019 for passage in the Lok Sabha, Shah said that the “Bill will only bring justice to the people who have been waiting for it for 70 years”.
He said the bill was for giving citizenship to religiously prosecuted minorities from Pakistan, Bangladesh and Afghanistan.
Shah outlined that unity in diversity was the strength of the country and tolerance was an attribute of the country.
“It is true that unity in diversity is a strong mantra to keep the country united. Tolerance is an attribute of the country. Never has this country invaded another country in its 10,000 years old history. Our forces never went out. Tolerance is our quality”, Shah said.
He said the country has always accepted change and it was a factor behind India being one of the oldest civilizations in the world.
“We accept change, make it part of our culture and move forward,” he said.
Shah further added that the constituent assembly had accepted India as being a secular nation and “BJP and its allies respect it, accept it and are eager to take it forward”.
“We all accept secularism. There should not be discrimination against anybody on the basis of religion, rights should not be curtailed. After the bill is passed, crores of people will be free from a difficult life and become Indian citizens with respect,” he said.
Shah emphasised that the bill has not taken away rights of any Muslim and they can apply for citizenship under the relevant rules and due process will be followed.
He said there was a fear amongst some that they would be jailed if they even apply for citizenship.
“We have a provision that’ll end all investigations against any minority person as soon as that person gets citizenship of India. In this Bill, we’re protecting the social and linguistic uniqueness of the North East people. Nobody needs to fear it,” he said.
“Nagaland and Mizoram are protected by Inner Line Permit and it will continue to remain protected. Keeping in mind the feelings of Manipur, we’re including them into the Inner Line Permit as well. Meghalaya is protected by the Sixth Schedule, and we are keeping the Sixth schedule of the ambit of the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill,” announced the Union Home Minister.
Shah took a dig at Congress for not properly implementing the Assam accord.
“I want to ask the people who did Assam Accord about what they did for so many years. Did they implement NRC? No. Now that we are solving this problem, why are they protesting to it? The six communities of Assam will benefit from this as well,” he said.
He challenged MPs from Bengal and Congress to prove that the Bill is partial.
“There are crores of people who are suffering at the moment. I challenge the MPs from Bengal and Congress to prove that the Bill is partial in any way. It isn’t,” he said.
The minister also stated that the promise to bring the bill was in BJP manifesto.
“I believe every political party must fight elections on its manifesto, which is built by the opinion of the people of the country, and not on some leader or family. This is what has happened here. This Bill was in BJP’s manifesto for 2014 and 2019 elections,” he said.
He also said citizenship has been demanded by refugees for years now.
“Everyone must rise above politics and think about this issue. They must have been persecuted brutally, and only then, they would’ve left their country to come here,” he added.
Shah also emphasised that it was the responsibility of every country to protect its boundaries and stop infiltration.
“We can’t open the country for everyone. Every country makes its law to protect itself and so have we,’ he said.