Indian Citizenship (Amendment) Bill clears parliament

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Aden - Yasmin Abdel Azim - Union Home Minister Amit Shah speaks in Rajya Sabha during the discussions on the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill 2019, during the winter session of Parliament in New Delhi on Wednesday. Image Credit: ANI

New Delhi: The Rajya Sabha, upper house of Indian Parliament, on Wednesday passed the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill, 2019, which seeks to give citizenship to non-Muslim migrants from Pakistan, Bangladesh, and Afghanistan.

The Lok Sabha has already passed the Bill.

The Bill had been tabled in the Rajya Sabha by Home Minister Amit Shah earlier in the day.

Responding to the debate, Home Minister Shah said the spirit of Nehru-Liaquat Pact was not followed by the neighbouring country, which led to the need for bringing the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill, 2019.

"The spirit of Liaquat-Nehru pact was not followed by the neighboring country. It is the duty of every government to follow it in letter and spirit," said Shah.

According to Nehru-Liyaqat pact, it was promised that religious minorities of each country would get equal opportunities in politics, services, and permission to practice the faith. The pact was signed between Indian Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru and Pakistani Prime Minister Liaquat Ali Khan in 1950.

"What happened to that promise? I can quote several laws of Pakistan. You can't fight election there ... What happened to minorities? From CJI, President, Vice President, ECI Chief to Rajya Sabha chairman, every post was held by Muslims in India," Shah said.

"During the UPA government, then Rajasthan government wrote to then Home Minister P Chidambaram stating outstanding issue of a large number of Pakistani refugees from Hindu and Sikh communities. 13,000 people from two religions only were benefited, whereas we have included refugees from six religions," he added.

Shah said that the Bill has been brought to rectify a historic blunder and due to Pakistan's failure to protect its minorities.

The Bill was passed with a majority of 311 votes against 80 votes in the Lok Sabha where 391 members were present and voting. It seeks to grant Indian citizenship to non-Muslim refugees who came from Pakistan, Bangladesh, and Afghanistan on or before December 31, 2014.

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