The Citizenship (Amendment) Bill 2016 was passed in the Lok Sabha on January 8, 2019. The year has begun with the controversial Citizenship Bill amid opposition’s protest against it. This has also raised a fundamental question as it seeks to grant citizenship on the basis of religion. Is our country truly secular? This question is for the ruling party of India to answer.
The Bill was proposed on July, 2016 and the government seeks to make non-Muslim illegal migrants from Bangladesh, Pakistan and Afghanistan eligible for citizenship. The NDA government enters its final year. In the last five years or so, it has never thought of the common people and their needs. Its unfinished work is quite a bucketful. But the government is still busy with groundless issues like the Citizenship Bill.
Our respected Union Home Minister said while introducing the Bill, “They (illegal migrants) have no place to go to, except India”. What does it establish? It establishes that this government loves to act as a caring big brother and that the whole responsibility of the welfare of South Asian nationals are upon the shoulders of the Modi government. But that is not so. Politics is the main factor behind this move. Providing citizenship to the non-Muslims who came to India before December 31, 2014 is just a political tool, to create a new vote bank before the general elections of 2019. I found no other valid reason behind this move.
“The burden of those persecuted migrants will be shared by the whole country. Assam alone should not have to bear the entire burden,” the Union Home Minister added. But how, when, why and where? As per a report, India is a country where 10 million people die every year of chronic hunger and hunger-related diseases. Hundreds of million of Indians survive on less than ₹32 a day. Crores of Indians sleep hungry at night. Millions of homes. Passing the Citizenship Bill invites extra burden for the nation that will be borne by the common people of the country. The Modi government is doing its best to divert people’s attention from core issues.
This is not all. The government has decided to reduce the minimum residency period from 12 years to seven.
The government can’t grant citizenship on religious lines. The National Register of Citizens (NRC) in Assam has now become a grand waste of money, paper and resources. The Assam Accord, which put March 24, 1971 as the cut-off date for determining bona fide Assamese residents, gets invalidated by this Bill. In that case, why did the Union Cabinet approve of the NRC process? It has cost ₹1220.93 crore up to December 31, 2018. The government has polarised Indians on religious lines. Over 17 people have committed suicide for not finding their names on the Draft list of NRC. Who will take the blame for all this?
(Views expressed are the author’s own and do not reflect those of National Herald)