New bill to give relief to people who fled from Pakistan, Bangladesh and Afghanistan: Modi

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NEW DELHI: Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi has expressed his delight over the passage of the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill, 2019 and said that it is “in line with India’s centuries-old ethos of assimilation and belief in humanitarian values”.

“Delighted that the Lok Sabha has passed the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill, 2019 after a rich and extensive debate. I thank the various MPs and parties that supported the Bill. This Bill is in line with India’s centuries old ethos of assimilation and belief in humanitarian values,” PM Modi said in a tweet.

The Prime Minister also applauded Home Minister Amit Shah for “lucidly” explaining all aspects of the Bill. “He also gave elaborate answers to the various points raised by respective MPs during the discussion in the Lok Sabha,” Modi added.

The Lok Sabha on Monday passed the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill 2019,  with a majority of 311 votes  against 80 votes in the Lower House where 391 members were present and voting. The debate on the same lasted for seven hours.

The Bill seeks to grant Indian citizenship to non-Muslim refugees from Pakistan, Bangladesh, and Afghanistan. Through this Bill, Indian citizenship will be provided to the members of Hindu, Sikh, Buddhist, Jain, Parsi and Christian communities, who have come from the three countries to India till December 31, 2014, to put an end to them being treated as illegal immigrants in the country.

The bill passed the upper house of parliament with 125 members supporting it and 105 opposing. The move by Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government faced stiff resistance from opposition parties, minority groups, and student bodies, with some calling it discriminatory against Muslims.
It is the third key election promise that Modi’s government has delivered since he was re-elected in May, re-energizing his nationalist, Hindu support base and drawing attention away from a slackening economy.
Some opposition Muslim politicians have argued that the bill targets their community, which numbers more than 170 million people and is by far India’s largest minority group. The government has said the new law will be followed by a citizenship register which means Muslims will have to prove they were original residents of India and not refugees from these three countries, potentially rendering some of them stateless.

Narendra Modi on Wednesday made a renewed pitch for the bill’s enactment. Hours before its tabling in Rajya Sabha, PM Modi said that the legislation would give a permanent relief to people who fled religious persecution from three countries in India’s neighbourhood: Pakistan, Afghanistan and Bangladesh. The bill, PM Modi told his party’s lawmakers from the two Houses, will be written in golden letters.