Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh on Tuesday introduced the Citizenship Amendment Bill, 2019 in Lok Sabha.
The Bill seeks to facilitate acquisition of citizenship by six identified minority communities namely Hindus, Sikhs, Jains, Buddhists, Christians and Parsis from Afghanistan, Pakistan and Bangladesh who came to India before December 31, 2014.
Moving the Bill, Rajnath clarified that the Act is not confined to the Assam state. The Bill will apply to all states and Union Territories of the country. The beneficiaries of Citizenship Amendment Bill can reside in any state of the country. The burden of these persecuted migrants will be shared by the whole country.
“Assam alone would not have to bear the entire burden and Indian government is committed to give all help to the State Government and people of Assam,” said Rajnath Singh.
Dispelling the misgivings about Citizenship Amendment Act, Rajnath highlighted the discrimination and religious persecution faced by these communities in these countries. They have no place to go to, except India, he said.
“The Act will provide relief to persecuted migrants who have come through western borders of the country to States like Gujarat, Rajasthan, Delhi, Madhya Pradesh and other States,” he added.
Migrants from these communities were earlier given protection against legal action in years 2015 and 2016.
The proposed amendment will make these persecuted migrants eligible to apply for citizenship. Citizenship will be given to them only after due scrutiny and recommendation of district authorities and the State Government. The minimum residency period for citizenship is being reduced from existing 12 years under the present law to 7 years.
Rajnath said the Union Cabinet has also approved grant of ST status to Six Communities of Assam namely Tai Ahom, Koch Rajbongshi, Chutia, Tea Tribes, Moran and Matak.
“A Bill is being introduced in the current session of Parliament,” he said.
He further added, “full safeguards will be provided to protect the interests, rights and privileges of existing Scheduled Tribes of Assam.”
“A separate bill will be brought to grant ST status to Bodo Kacharis in Hill districts of Assam and Karbis in the rest of Assam,” he said.
“Sixth Schedule of the Constitution is also proposed to be amended to strengthen the Autonomous District Councils,” Rajnath added.