After Lok Sabha, now Rajya Sabha passed Citizenship (Amendment) Bill on Tuesday, 11th December with 125 votes in favour and 105 votes against it, after 8 long hours of discussion. 

The bill aims to provide Indian citizenship to members of Hindu, Sikh, Buddhist, Jain, Parsi and Christian communities, who have come from Pakistan, Bangladesh, and Afghanistan, till December 31, 2014, facing religious persecution there. In a manner, the bill intends to make it easier for non-Muslim immigrants from India’s three Muslim-majority neighbours to become citizens of India.

As per the Citizenship Act, 1955, the applicant obtaining India’s citizenship must reside in India during the last 12 months and is a resident of the nation for at least 11 of the previous 14 years. The amended bill reduces the 11-year mandate to 6 years only for the non-Muslim immigrants coming from the aforesaid nations. 

The bill, on becoming law, will give the right to education, jobs and livelihood to the current illegal immigrants. These immigrants are treated as persecuted minorities in the three mentioned neighbouring nations.

After the bill made it through Rajya Sabha, Prime Minister Narendra Modi tweet-congratulated all the MPs who voted in favour of the bill:

People calling it Unsecular, Anti-Constitution, Biased towards Muslim Community

However, the bill is currently facing a lot of criticism because it excludes Muslim illegal immigrants from the citizenship criteria. People have been accusing that it is an agenda to target the community. 

While the bill has extended facilities for the non-Muslim communities, it has phased out all the Muslim illegal immigrants from obtaining citizenship, which includes the Rohingya Muslims from Myanmar, the Tamilian Muslims from Sri Lanka and Tibetan Muslims from China.

Country people are arguing that the bill violates ‘Article 14’ of the constitution which enforces the ‘Right to Equality’ to all the citizens of India. Many opposition parties’ leaders, politicians, minority leaders, as well as religious leaders & activists came forward to express their grief with the bill. 

Congress interim chief Sonia Gandhi quoted it as a “dark day” in the Indian constitutional history in an official statement:

Open Letter of 900+ Scientist and Scholar, calling CAB as Biased:

The CAB has also bagged criticism from Country’s scientists and scholars. More than 900 scientists and scholars have written an open letter against CAB, demanding to replace the proposed bill with “non-discriminatory” legislation.

The group said that it supports the government’s intention to provide refuge to persecuted minorities from neighbouring countries but they believe that the act is anti-constitutional as it has carefully excluded Muslims from the ambit of the legislation. They are saying that it is a violation of the constitution’s spirit and “will greatly strain the pluralistic fabric of the country.”

Aligarh Muslim University Students Protest

Many students joined the protest in the Aligarh Muslim University on Tuesday evening at Bab-e-Syed Gate and displayed their agitation with slogans against the legislation. They went on a 24-hour hunger strike to exhibit their discontent with the Citizenship Bill. 

Opposition Received from NER

Apart from this, the bill has also caused mass outrage in the north-eastern Indian state. The NER states have close boundaries with Bangladesh, which is why there are a large number of immigrants in these states from a neighbouring country. 

In states including Assam, Tripura etc. there has been a large number of violent protests in the past two days. The NER people are arguing that if the illegal immigrants are allotted Indian Citizenship, then will make indigenous communities a minority in their land.

Police had to fire rubber bullets, tear gas shells and baton-charge the protestors to control the riots. Around 14+ trains had been either cancelled or rescheduled on Wednesday after the protests escalated, 8 trains of which have been completely cancelled, with rest facing short termination. 

Afterwards, the Army had to be deployed in several areas of Tripura & Assam after the violent riots erupted on Wednesday afternoon. Apart from this, internet shutdown and curfew has been announced in several districts of Assam. 

An Indian protester shouts slogans near fire set on a road during a protest against the Citizenship Amendment Bill (CAB) in Gauhati, India, Wednesday, Dec. 11, 2019. Protesters burned tires and blocked highways and rail tracks in India’s remote northeast for a second day Wednesday as the upper house of Parliament began debating legislation that would grant citizenship to persecuted Hindus and other religious minorities from Pakistan, Bangladesh and Afghanistan. (AP Photo/Anupam Nath)

However, Prime Minister Narendra Modi tweeted assurance to the people of Assam that they can’t be deprived of their rights.

The argument of Those in Favour

On Monday, Lok Sabha had cleared the Citizen Amendment Bill with 334 votes in favour and 106 votes against it. After which it was proposed by Union Home Minister Amit Shah.

It received a lot of criticism from the opposition party leaders, just like it did in Lok Sabha on Monday. A war of words broke down in the lower and likewise in the upper house of the parliaments during the discussion, accusing the bill as anti-constitutional.

However, Amit Shah insisted that the bill was “not even 0.001 per cent against the minorities of the country”. 

He added that the proposed bill is being brought based on reasonable classifications provided under the Constitution and it does not violate any of its provisions. The Muslims illegal immigrants have not been given relaxations in the amended bill because the Muslim community does not face any criticism, torture or oppose in the three nations viz Pakistan, Afghanistan & Bangladesh.

Unlike other non-Muslim communities including Hindu, Sikh, Buddhist, Jain, Parsi and Christian communities, Muslims were very much welcomed in these nations and hence it is not reasonable to give them citizenship.

The bill has been passed in both the houses of parliament and is now to be signed by the President of India to become a law.