Trinamool Congress leader Upendra Nath Biswas has written a letter to union home minister Amit Shah, requesting him to amend the clause which mentions "five years mandatory period of residence in India" while implementing the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) even as his party has been opposing the legislation. The West Bengal assembly passed an anti-CAA resolution in February.
Upendra Nath Biswas, popularly known as Upen Biswas, retired as additional director of the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) in 2002. A 1968-batch Indian Police Service officer (West Bengal cadre), Biswas came into the limelight for pursuing former chief ministers of Bihar Jagannath Mishra and Lalu Prasad Yadav’s involvement in the Rs 950-crore fodder scam.
Speaking to News18, Biswas said, “Yes, I have sent a letter as well as an e-mail to union home minister Amit Shah and requested him to delete the clause about "five years mandatory period of residence in India". Earlier, it was 11 years, but presently as per Section 6 of the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) it is five years. But I requested him to delete the clause because this will be helpful to those who want to come back now in getting instant citizenship.”
He clarified that he didn’t mention anything about the citizenship of people who have already been staying in Bengal for many years.
“I only express my concern over those who want to come back now from Afghanistan, Bangladesh and Pakistan. As per the existing CAA, he or she (those who want to come back now) needs to reside here for five years before getting the citizenship. My question is why he or she will have to wait for five years to get citizenship. Therefore, I have requested our union home minister to amend Section 6 of the CAA,” he said.
In 2002, Upen Biswas, retired as additional director of the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) and joined the Trinamool Congress. He became an MLA from West Bengal’s Bagda assembly seat in Bangaon region, following which he actively started working for the empowerment of Scheduled Caste and Scheduled Tribe women. He is the chairman of West Bengal Scheduled Castes, Scheduled Tribes and Other Backward Classes Development and Finance Corporation.
News18.com has a copy of his letter to Amit Shah, which reads, “Let me congratulate you for enacting the Citizenship (Amendment) Act, 2019. I shall be grateful if you kindly frame Rules, without further delay to execute the Act. Another important issue is the section 6, which is as follows: In the Third Schedule to the principal Act, in clause (d), the following proviso shall be inserted, namely - provided that for the person belonging to Hindu, Sikh, Buddhist, Jain, Parsi or Christian community in Afghanistan, Bangladesh or Pakistan, the aggregate period of residence or service of government in India as required under this clause shall be read as 'not less than five years' in place of 'not less than eleven years'.”
It further says, “When you recently visited Kolkata, I made a demand through electronic media to you to amend Section 6 of the Act by saying, there shall be no mandatory period of residence in India by person belonging to Hindu, Sikh, Buddhist, Jain, Parsi or Christian community in Afghanistan, Bangladesh or Pakistan. This is the aspiration of the minorities of Bangladesh and many others of these people who have settled in different countries of the world. We have lost our homeland. Our consent was not taken to divide Bengal. Hopefully, you will open the door for my people to come to India and not face any difficulty to get Citizenship without any time limit. Let you do justice to my people. They are the victims of partition. You have taken the first step. Why wait to take the next! Justice delayed is justice denied.”
Shamik Bhattacharya, spokesperson of the state BJP, welcomed Biswas’s letter to the home minister and said, “Upen da needs no introduction for his dedicated service during his tenure as CBI officer. We welcome his letter to union home minister Amit Shah for congratulating him for enacting the Citizenship (Amendment) Act, 2019.”
The Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) aims to fast-track citizenship for Hindus, Parsis, Sikhs, Buddhists, Jains and Christians who arrived in India before December 31, 2014, from Muslim-majority Afghanistan, Bangladesh and Pakistan after facing religious persecution. The passing of the bill on December 11, 2019 triggered widespread demonstrations in several parts of the country, with detractors including the TMC saying, combined with the National Register of Citizens (NRC), the legislation is aimed at stripping Muslims in India of their citizenship if they have insufficient documentation. In Assam, protesters feared it would convert thousands of illegal migrants from neighbouring Muslim-majority Bangladesh into legal residents. Nearly 2 million people, including many Hindus, were left out of the final NRC list released in Assam last year for failing to have adequate documentation, after which the BJP floated plans of carrying out the exercise nationwide while redoing it in the state.