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'Citizenship Bill Validates Two-Nation Theory': Muslim Women's Body Urges MPs to Reject Legislation

Members of the Bharatiya Muslim Mahila Andolan said India must open its doors to every person facing persecution in the neighbouring countries.

Eram Agha | News18.comEramAgha

Updated:December 9, 2019, 6:38 PM IST
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'Citizenship Bill Validates Two-Nation Theory': Muslim Women's Body Urges MPs to Reject Legislation
File photo of an elderly man holding a placard while protesting against the citizenship bill.

New Delhi: Members of the Bharatiya Muslim Mahila Andolan have urged parliamentarians to reject the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill 2019 as they believe it divides citizens on the grounds of religion, and would validate the two-nation theory that had led to the country’s partition in the first place.

The group that was at the forefront of a legal battle for a law against triple talaq calls itself an autonomous, secular and rights-based mass organisation led by Muslim women. Formed in January, 2007, its founding members were Zakia Soman and Noorjehan Safia Niaz.

In a statement issued on Monday, the group said, “Victims of persecution should be given protection, support or citizenship without further discriminating them on account of religion, gender or ethnicity. Religion cannot be a criterion for citizenship or nationality as such a premise violates the Constitution of India. Discrimination on account of religion is antithetical to the idea of India as envisaged by our founders and articulated through the Constitution.”

Union Home Minister Amit Shah tabled the Bill in the Lok Sabha with 293 members voting in favour of its introduction amid protests from the Opposition which labelled the legislation as “regressive”. Shah said the bill was “not even 0.001% against the minorities of the country”.

The women’s body said that if passed, the citizenship bill would validate the two-nation theory under which India was divided. “The birth of Bangladesh in 1971 provides evidence that religion cannot be the basis of a nation and nationality. The passage of this Bill will make us resemble Pakistan where the governments and army are struggling to forge a religion-based nation even 70 years after its formation,” said the statement.

The group further said the liberal democratic society of India has opened doors and hearts to different persecuted people who sought refuge here without enquiring about their religious backgrounds. “This fact about the large-heartedness of Indian people was highlighted by Swami Vivekananda in the World conference on Religions in Chicago.”

The openhearted spirit of India’s people has led to the richness and diversity of the country getting further strengthened. It is a hallmark of Indian civilisation which should not be suppressed by such a divisive move, it said.

“The Cabinet (it had the Bill last week) is mistaken in its assessment of what ordinary citizens want. We want sound economy, jobs, education, farmers’ well-being, women’s safety and security, social harmony and peace. We do not want more division and polarisation in the name of religion,” the group said.

“The Cabinet must review and revise the Citizenship Amendment Bill to remove the selective mention of religious communities. We must open our doors to all persecuted people in our neighbourhood — Sri Lankan Tamils, Rohingyas, Shias, Hazaras, Ahmediyas, secular bloggers and all others who identify with our plural democratic ethos and seek refuge in our multi-cultural multi-faith nation,” the group said.

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| Edited by: Sohini Goswami
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