New Delhi: The Citizenship Amendment Bill, 2016, which seeks to provide citizenship to persecuted religious minorities from neighbouring countries is all set to be tabled in Parliament on Monday. The Congress, TMC, CPI(M) and a few other parties have been steadfastly opposing the bill claiming citizenship cannot be given on basis of religion, as India is secular.  “If the bill in its present form comes into effect, then it will nullify the Assam Accord under which anyone entering the state illegally after March 1971 should be declared a foreigner and deported,”an opposition MP said.

Besides Opposition parties, Bharatiya Janata Party’s allies Shiv Sena and JD(U) would also oppose the Bill in Parliament. The decision has been taken after the Asom Gana Parishad appealed to the Shiv Sena to oppose the legislation, party leader Sanjay Raut said in a statement.”We are determined to oppose the Citizenship Amendment Bill 2016 in Parliament,” Raut said.

JD(U) national general secretary Sanjay Verma said his party will oppose the bill because it will do no good to the identity and culture of Assam and the northeast.

A large section of people and organisations in the Northeast have opposed the bill, saying it will nullify provisions of the 1985 Assam Accord, which fixed March 24, 1971, as the cut-off date for deportation of illegal immigrants irrespective of religion Even Meghalaya and Mizoram governments have strongly opposed the bill and adopted resolutions against it.

The All Assam Students’ Union (AASU) has also called an 11-hour strike on January 8 in Assam to protest against the Bill. The North East Students’ Union (Neso) also called a strike over the issue on that day across the Northeast. Both the strikes will be held from 5am till 4pm. The protesters also called January 7, a ‘black day’.

“We will burn copies of the report as part of our protest on January 7. Assam’s people will never allow this bill to be implemented. We have also organised a mass gathering in Guwahati where people from all walks of life are expected to join,” a leading daily quoted AASU president Dipanka Kumar Nath as saying.

About The Bill: 

The bill seeks to amend the Citizenship Act, 1955, to grant Indian nationality to people belonging to minority communities — Hindus, Sikhs, Buddhists, Jains, Parsis and Christians — in Afghanistan, Bangladesh and Pakistan after six years of residence in India instead of 12, even if they don’t possess any proper document.

While speaking in Silchar, Assam on Friday, Prime Minister Narendra Modi reiterated the Centre’s commitment to pass the Citizenship Amendment Bill. “The Citizenship Bill is an atonement of the wrong that was done during India’s partition. I hope this bill is passed soon in Parliament. India will safeguard all who had been victims of partition,” he said.