Citizenship (Amendment) bill, 2019 in Lok Sabha

On December 4, 2019, the Union Cabinet cleared the Citizenship (Amendment) bill, for the bill to be tabled in Lok Sabha. The bill is being tabled amidst widespread protests in the north eastern states.

Key Features

The bill aims at providing Indian citizenship to 6 minority communities from Bangladesh, Pakistan and Afghanistan. The communities are Hindu, Christian, Sikhs, Buddhist and Jain. Currently for a person to get Indian citizenship, he should have resided in the country for 11 years. The bill intends to amend this as 6 years.

Concerns

The bill has not included Muslim community. This according to the opposition is violation of Article 14 that legalizes equality before law. The article states that the government shall show no discrimination on grounds of religion, caste, race, sex or birth.

The Illegal Migrants factor

According the Citizenship Act, 1955, illegal migrants can either be sent to jail or back to their own countries. In Assam, the protest is on rights and livelihood of ethnic communities on passage of the bill. After the bill is passed, thousands of illegal migrants will be deported according to Assam Accord. According to Assam Accord that was signed in 1985, foreigners who entered Indian soil after March 24, 1971 shall be deported.

In Mizoram, the protests are by the illegal Buddhist Chakma immigrants who were displaced by the construction of Kaptai dam on the Karnaphuli river in 1962. The Nagaland Tribes Council and Naga Students Federations sees the bill as a threat to political future of their identity.

There are protests in Manipur in the fear of the state becoming a dumping ground to foreigners

In Tripura the Kokborok community has reduced to 33% of the population of the state. Initially the state was dominated by the community with 80% of the population. Tripural believes that this condition will worsen of the bill is passed.

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