Citizenship Amendment Bill, 2016

February 12, 2019

Bhupen Hazarika’s son has rejected late father’s Bharat Ratna award. The wholesome blame he has given to the Citizenship Amendment Bill,2016 which is in favour of providing citizensenship to non-muslim immigrants.

Features of Citizenship Amendment Bill,2016

The bill is amending Citizenship Act,1955.

Aim : to provide citizenship to illegal migrants who are Hindus, Sikhs, Buddhists, Jains, Parsis and Christians from Afghanistan, Bangladesh and Pakistan.

  • Earlier , person gets the citizenship by naturalization if he/she is residing in India either for last 12 months or for 11 of the previous 14 years. In this bill, government had relaxed the 11 years requirement and decreased it to 6 years, for those persons belong to these six communities and from named above three countries.
  • The bill says that registration of Overseas Citizen of India(OCI) could be cancelled if they violate any law.
How To Get Indian Citizenship (As Per Citizenship Act 1955)?
  • At the commencement of Indian Constitution
  • Citizenship by birth
  • Citizenship by descent
  • Citizenship by registration
  • Citizenship by naturalization
What are the controversies over the bill?
  • The Bill targets religious minorities for the Indian citizenship, however in the mentioned countries, there are Shias and Ahmediyas, who are also religious minorities and face brutalities. These communities don’t find a mention in the Bill
  • Opposition wants the Bill to be “religion” and “country” neutral
  • The BJP allies in Assam – Assam Gana Parishad and organizations like the All Assam Students Union (AASU) are opposing the Bill.
  • Manipur has also asked the Centre to exempt the state from the Bill.
  • The Bill violates the objective of National Register of Citizens (NRC).
National Register Of Citizens (NRC)
  • National Register of India is a register which have names of all genuine citizens of Assam.
  • After 1951 census of India, it was prepared.
  • It was updated to identify the illegal immigrats of Bangladesh who have entered after the midnight of March 24,1971. (This date was decided by the 1985 Assam Accord )
  • The second and final draft list of the NRC was released in 2018, while the first updated list was concluded by December 31, 2017.
  • According to the NRC, any immigrant entered Assam after the specified time and date, irrespective of the religion will be deported.
  • The main contradiction lies here – The Citizenship Bill provides citizenship based on the religion and the country whereas NRC deny this biasness.
 Assam Accord
  • It was signed in 1985 by Indian PM Rajiv Gandhi and AASU President Prafulla Mahanta.
  • After 1971 Bangladesh liberation war many people have migrated illegally to Assam.
  • All Assam Students’ Union (AASU) in 1979 have agitated for six years demanding identification and deportation of illegal immigrants.
  • To recognize as valid citizens, accord sets March 24,1971 as the cut-off. Immigrants up to the cutoff date would get all rights as Indian citizens.
  • To safeguard the socio-political rights and culture of the “indigenous people of Assam”, Clause 6 was inserted.
Clause 6 of Assam Accord
  • It says that Constitutional,legislative and Administrative safeguards whatever is necessary will be provided to Assamese people in order to protect, preserve and promote the cultural, social, linguistic identity and heritage of them.
  • To safeguard the socio-political rights and culture of the “indigenous people of Assam”, Clause 6 was inserted.
  • The Union Cabinet cleared a proposal to set up a high-level committee to look into the implementation of Clause 6 of the Assam Accord of 1985.
Controversies Regarding Clause 6
  • Most stakeholders agree that the NRC of 1951 should be taken as the cutoff for defining “Assamese people” eligible for the proposed safeguards.
  • The update is based on March 24, 1971, which defines citizenship. Clause 6 relates to “Assamese people”. Should 1951 be accepted as the cutoff, it would imply that those who migrated between 1951 and 1971 would be Indian citizens, but would not be eligible for safeguards meant for “Assamese people”.

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