Bill on citizenship to non-Muslim immigrants cleared in Lok Sabha

Assam Police personnel remove black flags from Krishak Mukti Sangram Samiti activists protesting with 69 other indigenous organisations of Assam during a demonstration against the Citizenship Amendment Bill 2016. — AFP

"They have no place to go to, except India", he said, adding that several leaders, including first prime minister Jawaharlal Nehru, were in favour of giving shelter to persecuted minorities in the neighouring countries.

In Assam's Golaghat and Dibrugarh districts, protesters attempted to vandalise BJP offices, leading to the arrest of 14 persons in Dibrugarh and four in Golaghat, police said.

The Bill, which seeks to amend the Citizenship Act 1955 to grant Indian nationality to people from minority communities - Hindus, Sikhs, Buddhists, Jains, Parsis and Christians - from Afghanistan, Bangladesh and Pakistan after six years of residence in India instead of 12 even if they don't possess any proper document, is expected to be tabled in Lok Sabha today.

Meanwhile, Assam CM Sarbananda Sonowal on Saturday asked the people to keep calm as the state government would never do anything to harm their interests.

"In view of such protests, the committee is not convinced with the Ministry of Home Affairs' statement that there is no specific report on the unexpected demographic changes of certain North Eastern states, particularly Assam, due to the influx of migrants from Bangladesh", it said.

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A debate on the plan will begin on Wednesday, with a vote, which had been deferred in December, due to take place next week. Lawmakers are resuming debate on the deal Wednesday, before a vote expected to be held around January 15.

Critics say the bill, which offers preferential treatment to certain groups seeking citizenship, is a transparent pitch to voters as Hindu-majority India prepares for the world's largest election.

He said the Bill not only applies to Assam but to the entire country and such migrants were in several other states.

"Let us all join hands to find an acceptable, rational and practical solution to this important issue", Sonowal said.

AGP president Atul Bora announced the decision after a meeting with Home Minister Rajnath Singh.

Political parties in the North-East, especially regional outfits, allege that the Bill is an attempt to make illegal migrants eligible for Indian citizenship on the basis of religion.

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The TDP and Upendra Kushwaha-led Rashtriya Lok Samta Party quit the BJP-led NDA in the last one year during which the saffron party also parted ways with the PDP-headed coalition in Jammu and Kashmir. "We now regret entering into an alliance with the BJP", Bora later told reporters.

Assam Police personnel remove black flags from Krishak Mukti Sangram Samiti (KMSS) activists protesting with 69 other indigenous organisations of Assam during a demonstration against the Citizenship Amendment Bill 2016.

The chief minister had assured us that the Centre will not go against the interest of the Assamese people but it is "unfortunate that he did not do enough to stall the bill", the AGP president said.

The Bill was originally introduced in 2016 and was later sent to the Joint Parliamentary Committee (JPC), which submitted its report on Monday.

Ruling BJP's ally IPFT's Assistant General Secretary Mangal Debbarma told IANS that they have extended moral support to the NESO's shutdown in the northeastern region comprising seven states, excluding Sikkim.

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Members of Asom Yuba Chatra Parishad staged a nude protest against the Bill at Tinsukia in Upper Assam, and in Delhi, too, some of the demonstrators stripped naked outside Parliament.

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