The passage of the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill, 2019 was the major highlight of the Winter Session of Parliament. Both the Houses approved the Bill on Wednesday. Piloting the bill, Home Minister Amit Shah, said, it is a historic necessity to redress the hardships being faced by the minorities in neighbouring Pakistan, Bangladesh and Afghanistan. He said, after the partition on religious lines the minorities in those countries are subjected to continuous persecution. The bill seeks to amend the Citizenship Act of 1955 to make illegal migrants of six communities from Afghanistan, Bangladesh and Pakistan eligible for Indian citizenship. The communities are Hindus, Sikhs, Buddhists, Jains, Parsis and Christians.
Answering on its constitutionality, Mr. Shah said, the bill has reasonable classification to meet the conditions. He said in the last five years, India has been considerate to give citizenship to 566 Muslims from those countries. He said the bill is neither brought in haste nor any smoke screen to divert from the issues as alleged by the opposition. He said, earlier citizenship has been provided to people of Sri Lanka and Uganda. In a tweet, Prime Minister said it is a landmark day for India and the nation’s ethos of compassion and brotherhood. He said the bill alleviates the sufferings of many who faced persecution for years.
Parliament passed the Constitution (One Hundred and Twenty-Sixth Amendment) Bill 2019 with Rajya Sabha (Upper House) approving it on Thursday. The Bill seeks to extend the reservation for Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes in Lok Sabha (Lower House) and State Assemblies by another ten years till January 25, 2030. Replying to discussion, Law and Justice Minister, Ravi Shankar Prasad said, the government is not going to formulate creamy layer criteria in the reservation of SC-ST. He said, National Democratic Alliance (NDA) government has formulated several measures for the welfare of the two communities. He said, the government acknowledges the contribution of Anglo-Indian communities in the fields of education and armed forces.Minister of State for Home Affairs Nityanand Rai informed the Lok Sabha that over 1.29 lakh people have been declared foreigners by various foreigners’ tribunals in Assam till October 2019. He said 1.14 lakh people who had challenged their status as foreigners, had also been declared Indian citizens.
Culture Minister Pralhad Patel informed the Rajya Sabha that an auction of mementos received by Prime Minister Narendra Modi during his official trips within the country, has raised more than 15 crore rupees.
Minister of State for Home Affairs G. Kishan Reddy told the Lok Sabha in a written reply that there were 85 infiltration attempts by terrorists across the Line of Control in Jammu and Kashmir since Article 370 was revoked on August 5, of which 59 were estimated to be successful. The Minister said between 1990 and October 2019, around 22,557 terrorists were killed in Jammu and Kashmir during infiltration attempts. He said from 2005 to October 31, 2019, a total of 1,011 infiltrating terrorists were killed, 42 caught and 2,253 pushed back.
Minister of State for External Affairs V. Muraleedharan informed the Lok Sabha that there are 292 Indians and believed to be Indian civilian prisoners and fishermen in Pakistan’s custody. He said according to the list shared on 1st of July 2019, Pakistan acknowledged the custody of 52 civilian prisoners and 209 fishermen who are believed to be Indians. He said there is the issue of 83 missing Indian defence personnel, including Prisoners of Wars, whose custody has not been acknowledged by Islamabad so far. The Minister said as a result of New Delhi’s persistent efforts, the government has been successful in securing the release and repatriation of 2,112 Indians including fishermen from Pakistan’s custody since 2014. He said this includes 364 Indians who have returned this year so far.
Script: V. Mohan Rao, Journalist