Pressure group voices opposition to Citizenship Amendment Bill

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NEW DELHI, Aug 7 (PTI): A group of citizens from Assam on Tuesday voiced their opposition to a proposed Bill to amend the six-decade-old Citizenship Act, seeking to grant citizenship to people from minority communities from Afghanistan, Bangladesh and Pakistan.

The minority communities from these countries comprise Hindus, Sikhs, Buddhists, Jains, Parsis and Christians. The group, including former Assam chief minister Prafulla Kumar Mahanta, said at a seminar here that these proposed amendments in the Citizenship Act, 1955, was against the basic structure of the Constitution.

While on the one hand there is absolute lack of will on the part of the central government to deport the foreign nationals, on the other hand the Centre is contemplating to amend the Citizenship Act to give citizenship to a large number of illegal immigrants belonging to a particular religion, the citizens from Assam said.

If the proposed amendments in the Citizenship Act is not withdrawn immediately, it will be a death knell for the indigenous people of Assam, they said.

It is an irony that when the people of the state is demanding detection and deportation of illegal migrants, the central government rather than doing that is trying to legalise the illegal migrants, the group of citizens said. The Citizenship (Amendment) Bill, 2016, was introduced in the Lok Sabha to amend the Citizenship Act.

Among others, the amendment bill seeks to grant citizenship to people from minority communities — Hindus, Sikhs, Buddhists, Jains, Parsis and Christians from Afghanistan, Bangladesh and Pakistan after six years of residence in India instead of 12 even if they do not possess any proper document.

A large section of people and organisations in the northeast have opposed the bill, saying it will nullify the provisions of the Assam Accord of 1985, which fixed March 24, 1971, as the cut off date for deportation of all illegal immigrants irrespective of their religion.

The Meghalaya and Mizoram governments have strongly opposed the Citizenship Amendment Bill and adopted resolutions against it. The Bill is now under consideration of a joint committee of Parliament.

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