India: Opposition, NGOs slam move to amend Citizenship Act – The Hindu
2016/10/15 Leave a comment
Indian citizenship debates and religious preference:
The Bill has been criticised by the Opposition, which has accused the government of granting citizenship to persecuted minorities from neighbouring countries on “religious lines” and wooing the majority Hindu community.
To change definition
With this amendment, the government plans to change the definition of “illegal migrants” that will enable it to grant citizenship to minorities, mostly Hindus from Pakistan, Bangladesh and Afghanistan, who fled their countries fearing religious persecution. The Bill creates an exception for Hindus, Sikhs, Buddhists, Jains, Parsis and Christians from Afghanistan, Bangladesh and Pakistan, and plans to reduce the requirement of 11 years of continuous stay to six years to obtain citizenship by naturalisation.
The Bill was introduced in the Lok Sabha in July.
A joint parliamentary panel, which is examining the Bill, heard petitions from several NGOs on Thursday.One of the NGOs from Assam demanded that the requirement of 11 years of continuous stay be waived for all Hindus and that they be immediately included in the National Register of Citizens (NRC). The NRC is being updated in Assam to weed out illegal migrants who came to Assam post the 1971 war when Bangladesh was liberated from Pakistan. The cut-off date for the NRC is midnight of March 24, 1971, and all those who migrated to Assam from Bangladesh before this period would get Indian citizenship as per the Assam Accord signed in 1985.
Another NGO from Rajasthan also demanded that Hindus be exempted from the naturalisation process.
At the meeting, parliamentarians said the government was amending the Act to appease the Hindu community as the people who would be benefited the most would be Hindus from neighbouring countries.