Complaint against journalists opposing Citizenship Bill, MHA refutes report

The Ministry, in its clarification, said such reports are “an absolutely baseless and a mischievous interpretation of the fact”.

Complaint against journalists opposing Citizenship Bill, MHA refutes report
Photo: AFP

NEW DELHI: The Union Home Ministry on Friday said that it had not asked the Assam government to take any action against editors and journalists who have expressed their opposition to the controversial Citizenship Bill.

A complaint filed by Legal Rights Observatory had alleged that journalists “exploited” the turmoil over the Citizenship Amendment Bill in Assam, according to media reports.

The Ministry, in its clarification, said such reports are “an absolutely baseless and a mischievous interpretation of the fact”.

“This is to clarify that Union Home Ministry has not asked the state government of Assam to initiate any enquiry against any editor or any member of the press/media. It is mischievous to suggest that central government has asked Government of Assam to initiate action against any editor or any media person in Assam. It is reiterated that it is standard practice to forward every petition received on Centralised Public Grievance Redress and Monitoring System (CPGRAMS) to the Ministry/state government concerned,” the statement by the MHA said.

The MHA statement further clarified that, “The factual position is that one Vinay Joshi with the address of Ratnagiri, Maharashtra sent a public grievance petition to the MHA on the CPGRAMS on February 14, 2019 related the issue of Citizenship Amendment Bill- 2016 stating that the issue has been exploited by different militant groups like ULFA and the media has propagated militant ideology to give fresh boost to the militant groups.”

The ministry said it did not ask the state government to initiate any inquiry against any editor or member of the press and media.

This petition was forwarded as per standard practice to the Assam government but the Union Ministry has not called for any report from the state, the statement added.

The Citizenship Bill, which was introduced in Lok Sabha in July 2016 by NDA was passed on January 8, seeks to provide citizenship to minorities including Hindus, Sikhs, Jains and Parsis from Bangladesh, Pakistan, and Afghanistan who came to India before December 31, 2014.

Attempts by the central government to pass it through the Rajya Sabha were stalled by the Opposition.

Under the proposed amendments in the Bill, the minimum residency period for citizenship was being reduced from the existing 12 years under the present law to 7 years.

However, citizenship was supposed to be given to them only after due scrutiny and on the recommendation of district authorities and the state government.

Several organizations had staged massive protests over the Bill, asserting that the legislation will create law and order problems in the North East.

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