Rajya Sabha approves Citizenship Amendment Bill 2019
12 December 2019
The Rajya Sabha on Tuesday passed the Citizenship Amendment Bill 2019 with 125 votes in favour and 105 against, a day after the Lok Sabha passed the crucial bill with 311 MPs voting in its favour and 80 against.
With both Houses of Parliament approving the Citizenship Amendment Bill, the legislation that will give Indian citizenship to Hindu, Christian, Sikh, Buddhist and Zorastrian refugees fleeing religious persecution from Pakistan, Afghanistan and Bangladesh, will now go the President’s assent to be passed into law.
Once signed into law by the President, the Citizenship Amendment Bill 2019 will provide a big relief to persecuted minorities who have fled from the three Muslim countries to seek refuge in India, but are still not entitled to Indian citizenship.
Union home minister Amit Shah successfully steered the bill in the House at noon amid strong protests by opposition and several groups in North East and other parts of the country.
In fact, the Rajya Sabha briefly stopped telecast of the proceedings as an unruly members of the opposition heckled the home minister as if to vent their anger.
Amit Shah was heckled by opposition members during the introduction of the bill when he stated that the rights of Assamese people will be protected by the BJP government.
Senior Congress leader Ghulam Nabi Azad slammed the BJP, accusing the party of trying to divide the country on religion lines. Azad, who is also the Leader of opposition in Rajya Sabha, said: “There are about 13 like-minded parties in the Rajya Sabha... I have met them and they will all vote against CAB Bill." Azad remarked that the BJP-led government at the centre was least bothered about addressing concerns around the economy and issue of price rise and is only trying to divide the nation.
An opposition move to refer Citizenship Amendment Bill to select panel defeated in Rajya Sabha by 124 no and 99 yes. A demand to refer the amendment to a select panel was also rejected in the Rajya Sabha.
Replying to the opposition on CAB home minister Amit Shah, said, ''They are trying to create fear among the Muslims.''
Shah also told a domineering Congress, ''Don't teach me the idea of India. I was born here and I will die here.''
He also defended NDA legislations saying, ''CAB, Triple-Talaq are not anti-muslim bills.''
Answering questions on the exclusion of Rohingyas in CAB Amit Shah said, ''It was asked that why were Rohingyas not included in the Bill? Rohingyas don't come to India directly, they go to Bangladesh and then infiltrate into India from there.''
''The entire country knows that the reason behind partition was Jinnah and it was done due to his demand. But all I am asking is why did Congress agree to it? Why was it done on the basis of religion?''
“During UPA government the then Rajasthan government wrote to then home minister P Chidambaram stating outstanding issue of large number of Pakistan refugees from Hindu and Sikh communities. 13,000 people from the two religions only were benefited. Whereas, we have included refugees from six religions,'' Amit Shah said.
During the voting, two Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) MPs remained absent while the Shiv Sena walked out before the final voting on Citizenship Amendment Bill 2019
There are 240 MPs in the Rajya Sabha as five seats are lying vacant, therefore, the BJP-led government at the Centre needs the support of merely 121 MPs to pass the bill. Since the BJP has 83 Rajya Sabha MPs, it will need the support of 38 more MPs.
In North East, meanwhile, various tribal groups and youth organisations joined hands to register their opposition against the Citizenship Amendment Bill. In Tripura, four policemen and some protesters were injured during clashes between the protesters and police. The Tripura government on Monday ordered suspension of the Internet and social media services in the entire state for 48 hours. Violent protests were witnessed in Assam too where the protesters clashed with security forces near the Secretariat and Assembly buildings in Guwahati.
Union IT minister Ravi Shankar Prasad said, ''If any persons are not being allowed to practice their freedom of religion, then according to our Constitution’s Article 25 it is the responsibility of the government to ensure this right for them.''