New Delhi: The Lok Sabha created history on Monday mid-night as it gave the crucial nod to the much talked about Citizenship Amendment Bill by an overwhelming majority.As many as 311 members backed it and 80 MPs from Congress, Trinamool Congress and other opposition parties voted against it.
Several amendments from the opposition members were negated by division or voice votes.In his spirited reply, Home Minister Amit Shah said in no way the new and revised Bill will be contradicting or violating basic structures of the constitution.
The Bill in its previous format was passed by the last Lok Sabha but could not reach the Rajya Sabha as the Lower House was dissolved and the draft law had lapsed.Mr Shah also said the BJP and the central government is firm about bringing in NRC norms across the country.
"We do not need to make any background for this. Our manifesto is clear, we will have nationwide NRC," the Home Minister said.Mr Shah tried to corner Congress and other opposition parties when he blamed the grand old party for partition.
"It is a historic fact the Congress party had accepted the proposal for partition....," he said adding perhaps the Citizenship Amendment Bill would not have been necessary today if the country was not partitioned on the basis of religion.
During the heated debate, Mr Shah said the government move has endorsement of India's 130 crore people.While opposition parties including Congress, Trinamool and NCP expressed apprehension on the intent of the government, Mr Shah for his part said - "We will have to differentiate between intruders and refugees".
"Citizenship amendment bill does not discriminate against anyone," he said.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi thanked the lawmakers in Lok Sabha for giving their nod to the Bill.
"Delighted that the Lok Sabha has passed the Citizenship Amendment Bill, 2019 after a rich and extensive debate," he tweeted.
"I thank the various MPs and parties that supported the Bill. This Bill is in line with India's centuries old ethos of assimilation and belief in humanitarian values," he said.According to the revised draft law, members of the Hindu, Sikh, Buddhist, Jain, Parsi and Christian communities, who have come from Pakistan, Bangladesh and Afghanistan and were facing religious persecution in those countries will be given citizenship.
Under the existing provisions, migrants from these six communities from Pakistan, Afghanistan or Bangladesh without proper documents are considered ineligible to apply for Indian citizenship.
It is proposed in the Bill to make these migrants eligible for Indian citizenship but with the condition that the illegal migrants have entered into India up to the cut of date of December 31, 2014.
The Bill also made provisions for migrants of six communities who have applied for Indian citizenship under section 5 of the Citizenship Act, 1955 but were unable to produce proof of their Indian origin.
In his reply and while piloting the Bill, Mr Shah sought to allay fears of people in the North-Eastern States, saying all the States in the region were well protected by the Bengal East Frontier Regulation, 1873 and provisions of Inner Line Permit (ILP).
In a major breakthrough for the government key northeastern parties NPP in Meghalaya, MNF in Mizoram and lone NPF member in Manipur backed the Citizenship Amendment Bill.
Former Union Minister Agatha Sanmga of NPP in Meghalaya supported the Bill and so did C Lalrosanga of MNF in Mizoram and NPF member Dr Lorho S Pfoze who represents Outer Manipur.
The Home Minister also said as Manipur does not have ILP, this mechanism to protect the rights of tribals will be introduced.To a demand from Congress member Manish Tewari, the Home Minister said the country does not need any new law or policy for refugees.
The Home Minister said the CAB provisions will not apply to entire state of Mizoram and Arunachal Pradesh and most parts of Nagaland where ILP regulation applies.
The new Bill also exempts "tribal areas" of Assam, Meghalaya and Tripura under the Sixth Schedule of the Constitution.
During the day-long debate, among others Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury, Saugata Roy, N K Premchandran, Gaurv Gogoi, Shashi Tharoor and Assaduddin Owaisi slammed the government.
The tabling of the bill and the extensive debate in Lok Sabha came amid protests and incidents of violence in Northeastern states.Gaurav Gogoi of Congress said the Bill is against the spirit of the Assam Accord inked in 1985.(UNI)