Rajya Sabha passes Citizenship (Amendment) Bill: After Lok Sabha gave its nod to much-discussed Citizenship Bill, Rajya Sabha, the higher house of the Parliament gave seal of approval to the bill on Wednesday. Citizenship (Amendment) Bill will now be sent to President Ram Nath Kovind for his approval after which it will be a law. 125 MPs voted in favour of the bill while 105 voted against the bill. There were no abstentions.
Rajya Sabha saw a fierce debate on Citizenship Bill.
Six hours were allotted for debate on the bill in Rajya Sabha. However, the debate went on for eight hours. Union Home Minister Amit Shah tabled the bill in Rajya Sabha on Wednesday afternoon. At the outset, Shah assured that Indian Muslims need not have any fear because of Citizenship (Amendment) Bill. Throughout the debate, BJP strongly maintained its position that Citizenship (Amendment) Bill does not violate the Constitution of India.
The bill came under strong attack from the Opposition. Former Union Home Minister P Chidambaram led the charge saying that passage of Citizenship Bill is a slap on the face of the Parliament. He alleged that PM Narendra Modi-led BJP government was trying to pass an unconstitutional law. He accused the government of trying to push the Hindutva agenda.
BJP countered this claim. The party got support from its allies. AIADMK and Janata Dal (United) came in support of the bill. BJP MP Subramanian Swamy said that Congress was trying to mislead the Parliament on the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill.
The main charge of the Congress has been that Citizenship Bill adheres to principles espoused in 'two-nation theory'. Senior Congress leader Kapil Sibbal repeated the charge. But even this argument was countered.
It was interesting to see BJP's former ally Shiv Sena take potshots at it.
"The school in which you study, I am Headmaster of that. The Headmaster of our school was Balasaheb Thackeray. Atalji was also there. Syama Prasad Mukherjee was also there. We respect all of them," said Shiv Sena's Rajya Sabha MP Sanjay Raut.
Shiv Sena did not take part in voting on the Citizenship Bill. The MPs were not present inside Rajya Sabha when voting procedure was being carried out.
When asked whether Shiv Sena had boycotted the voting, Sanjay Raut said yes. He was quoted by ANI.
Amit Shah rose to speak again in the evening. He sought to allay fears of the Opposition and respond to the exceptions raised by them. He stressed again and again that Citizenship Bill was not meant to be against Muslims.
"We are not stripping Muslims of any of their rights," said Shah.
Violence in North East
There was widespread violence in Northeastern states throughout the day. People were on the streets to oppose Citizenship (Amendment) Bill.
The Centre on Wednesday airlifted 5,000 paramilitary personnel to Northeastern states, including Assam, for maintenance of law and order duties in wake protests
Nearly 20 companies (2,000 personnel) were withdrawn from Kashmir, where they had been sent prior to the Centre's decision on August 5 to abrogate Article 370.
Citizenship (Amendment) Bill: What it means
The Citizenship (Amendment) Bill aims to amend the Citizenship Act, 1955 to make Hindu, Sikh, Jain, Buddhist, Christian and Parsi faiths who entered India from Afghanistan, Bangladesh and Pakistan eligible for citizenship. The bill wants to make it easier for non-Muslim immigrants from Afghanistan, Bangladesh and Pakistan to become citizens of India.
If a person belonging to the aforementioned faiths, from Afghanistan, Bangladesh or Pakistan, does not have proof of birth of parents, they can apply for Indian citizenship after six years of residence in India.
The amendment applies to people who were "forced or compelled to seek shelter in India due to persecution on the ground of religion..."
Under the Citizenship Act, 1955, one of the requirements for citizenship by naturalisation is that the applicant must have resided in India during the last 12 months, as well as for 11 of the previous 14 years.
The amended bill relaxes the second requirement from 11 years to 6 years as a specific condition for applicants belonging to these six religions, and the aforementioned three countries.
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