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Link Between NRC, CAB and Who Will Be Impacted: All You Need to Know About Citizenship Bill

Union Home Minister Amit Shah on Monday tabled The Citizenship (Amendment) Bill, 2019 in the Lok Sabha.


Updated:December 10, 2019, 1:27 PM IST
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Link Between NRC, CAB and Who Will Be Impacted: All You Need to Know About Citizenship Bill
College students protest against the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill. (PTI)

New Delhi: The Rajya Sabha will take up the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill, 2019 on Wednesday and six hours have been allotted for discussion on the issue that saw heated arguments in the Lok Sabha, where the Opposition accused the Narendra Modi government of discrimination.

Here’s a look at what the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill, 2019 is, why it has been termed controversial and how it will impact you.

What is the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill, 2019?

The Bill amends the Citizenship Act 1955 to effectively grant citizenship to non-Muslim refugees from Pakistan, Bangladesh, Afghanistan for Indian citizenship. Moreover, they will be given Indian citizenship after residing in the country for five years, instead of 11 years.

Who is eligible? What is the cut-off date?

The proposed legislation is aimed at those were “forced or compelled to seek shelter in India due to persecution on the ground of religion” and aims to protect such people from the legal ramifications of illegal migration.

The cut-off date is December 31, 2014, implying that applicants must have entered India on or before the date.

What is the National Register of Citizens (NRC)?

The NRC is a register maintained by the union government of India that effectively lists out Indian citizens in Assam, and weeds out ‘infiltrators’. The register was first made for Assam, but on November 20, home minister Amit Shah said that it would be extended to the entire country.

What is the link between the CAB and the NRC?

After the final NRC list was published on August 31, there was much controversy with parties alleging that many genuine citizens, in particular Bengali Hindus, had been left out of the final list.

This had political ramifications for the BJP in Bengal and the saffron party has since argued in the state that the CAB will ensure that no Bengali Hindu is left out.

How has citizenship by naturalisation been changed?

The Bill has relaxed the requirements for citizenship by naturalisation, wherein earlier applicants needed to have resided in India in the last 12 months, and for 11 of the earlier 14 years. The Bill reduces this to six years belonging to the six religions – illegal Hindus, Sikhs, Buddhists, Jains, Parsis and Christians.

What about Overseas Citizen of India (OCI) registration?

The Bill also proposes to incorporate a sub-section (d) to Section 7, providing for cancellation of Overseas Citizen of India (OCI) registration where the OCI card-holder has violated any provision of the Citizenship Act or any other law in force.

What is the government’s logic?

The government has described the exercise as an inherently ‘humanitarian’ one, arguing that it will aid those minorities trying to escape religious persecution in Muslim majority nations.

What is the controversy?

The problem with the proposed Bill, the Opposition pointed out, was that it wasn’t consistent in safeguarding all religious minorities, nor does it extend to all of India’s neighbouring countries: for instance, Rohingya Muslims and Hindus face persecution in Mynamar, or minority Muslim sects in Pakistan, or Christian Tamils in Sri Lanka have.

Also, Amit Shah has argued that the CAB wouldn’t have been necessitated had the Congress not agreed to the partition. However, Afghanistan was never a part of pre-partition India. Myanmar, on the other hand, was.

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