Northeast to see publicity blitz

Centre says it’s not the only region that hosts minorities from the neighbourhood Worried over the protests against the Citizenship Amendment Bill in the northeastern States, the Centre has decided to push a “region-specific” narrative to gain support. A senior official said the government was planning publicity material to push the stand that the Bill would help many non-Muslims from Pakistan and Afghanistan who had fled their countries fearing persecution and were now settled in western parts of the country. Submissions by the Home Ministry before the Joint Parliamentary Committee on the Bill said 31,313 persons from minority communities (Hindus: 25,447, Sikhs: 5,807, Christians: 55, Buddhists and Parsis: two each) who have been given long-term visas on the basis of their plea of religious persecution in their respective countries want Indian citizenship. These persons will be the immediate beneficiaries of the Bill. The Bill seeks to grant Indian citizenship to Hindus, Christians, Parsis, Buddhists, Jains and Sikhs who entered India till December 2014. It reduces the mandatory requirement of a 12-year stay in India to seven years to be eligible for citizenship if they do not possess any documents. In the northeast, the government will try to highlight the atrocities faced by Hindus in Bangladesh and the “change in demography” along the border. Home Minister Rajnath Singh told the Lok Sabha that “the beneficiaries of the Citizenship Amendment Bill can reside in any State of the country, and the burden of those persecuted migrants will be shared by the whole country.” There has been a strong resistance to the Bill in BJP-ruled Assam and other northeastern States as it would pave the way for granting citizenship, mostly to illegal Hindu migrants from Bangladesh in Assam, who came in after March 1971, in violation of the agreement of the Assam Accord, 1985.

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