Bangladesh question looms over Citizenship Bill

As the deadline for a joint committee of Parliament on the contentious Citizenship (Amendment) Bill, 2016, nears an end, some members asked whether it was possible to present the Bill in a truncated form by excluding Bangladesh. The Bill proposes citizenship to persecuted Hindus, Jains, Sikhs, Parsis, Christians and Buddhists from Pakistan, Afghanistan and Bangladesh who came to India before 2014. Violation of equality The joint committee met on Tuesday to discuss the Bill, posing questions to the Ministries of Home, Foreign and Law whether the proposed law violated provisions of Article 14 of the Constitution that guarantees equality before the law and prohibits discrimination on grounds of religion, race, caste, sex or place of birth. One of the members also raised concerns if acknowledging the minorities from Bangladesh as “persecuted minorities” would hurt relations with the neighbouring country. Another member said the draft legislation had unnecessarily led to a volatile situation in the northeast as Assam faced violent protests on Tuesday. There has been a strong resistance to the Bill in BJP-ruled Assam. A source told The Hindu that BJP’s Rajendra Agrawal, chairperson of the joint committee, was keen that the report be submitted during the winter session of the Parliament, as the tenure of the committee would lapse.

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