Home Minister Amit Shah on Wednesday tabled the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill in the Rajya Sabha on Wednesday with assurance that it will give protection to persecuted minorities from three neighbouring countries.
"When Partition happened, it was thought the minorities will get civil rights and lead a normal life, that they will be able to practice their own religion and protect their women. But when we look back, we see what the truth really is. These people did not get their rights. They were either killed, converted or came to India," Shah said while introducing the bill. This bill will give citizenship to all such people, he added.
He once again took on the Opposition for allegations that the bill is biased against Muslims in India. "Misinformation has been spread that this bill is against Muslims of India. I want to ask the people saying this that how is this bill related to Indian Muslims? The Muslims in India are our citizens, they won't be tortured. What do you want - all the Muslims coming from all over the world should be given Indian citizenship? This is not possible. The minorities are being persecuted in these three countries, that is why we have included only these countries," Shah said.
The bill and the opposition motion will be put to vote after a debate on it.
Through this bill, once it becomes law, the Narendra Modi government is going to give legal status to these provisions which will give the minorities an honourable life, the Home Minister said.
"No Muslim in India needs to worry due to this bill. Don't get scared if someone tries to scare you. This is Narendra Modi's government working according to Constitution, minorities will get full protection," Shah said.
Shah said the BJP had clearly indicated its intent to bring such legislation in its election manifesto for the 2019 general election and the people of the country voted for it overwhelmingly. "It is not vote bank politics. We told the people before the elections and won the people's mandate and approval," he said
As the debate progressed, Congress leader Anand Sharma reiterated his party's stand that the bill is an attack on the foundation of Indian constitution. "The bill that you have brought is an assault on the very foundation of the Indian constitution, it is an assault on the Republic of India. It hurts the soul of India. It is against our constitution and democracy. It fails the morality test," he said.
The government is plannning to make the Citizenship Bill a law by getting it passed through the Rajya Sabha or Upper House of Parliament. It has already cleared the Lok Sabha; the debate there was fierce and Shah successfully defended all the allegations levelled by the Opposition against the bill.
The Lok Sabha passed the bill with 311 members voting for it and 80 against it.
Prime Minister 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.