NEW DELHI: During a debate over the contentious Citizenship (Amendment) Bill, Union Home Minister Amit Shah in the Lok Sabha on Monday made it clear that Rohingya Muslims from Myanmar will not be accepted as citizens of the country.
“Rohingyas will never be accepted as citizens of India. Rohingya people infiltrated through Bangladesh. I am saying that again,” he said in the Lower House.
“There is a difference between a refugee and an infiltrator. Those who come here due to persecution, to save their religion and the honour of the women of their family, they are refugees and those who come here illegally are infiltrators,” said Shah.
The lively over seven-hour debate saw participation from 48 members. The bill was introduced Monday morning and was passed past midnight.
The Citizenship (Amendment) Bill, 2019 was passed after division with 311 members voting in favour and 80 against. The bill will now go to the Rajya Sabha.
The bill makes Hindus, Sikhs, Buddhists, Jains, Parsis, Christians from Pakistan, Bangladesh and Afghanistan, eligible for citizenship. It seeks to amend the Citizenship Act.
The bill was supported by Shiv Sena, which is no longer with BJP, though its other allies in Maharashtra government – Congress and NCP – strongly opposed the bill.
But to Muslim organisations, rights groups and others, the bill is part of PM Modi’s push to marginalise India’s 200-million-strong Islamic minority — a claim he and his government deny.
Letter to Modi
On Monday, 100 scientists and scholars at institutions in India and abroad published a joint letter expressing their “dismay” at the legislation, saying the constitution called for members of all faiths to be treated equally.
But, they wrote, PM Modi’s “proposed bill would mark a radical break with this history and would be inconsistent with the basic structure of the constitution”.
The letter said such a careful exclusion of Muslims would “greatly strain” India’s pluralism.