MHA: CITIZENSHIP Bill Is Not Assam Or NE Specific: Will Ensure Assam Is Not Burdened

AS Amit Shah, National President of BJP, has assured the people of Bengal that if his party forms government again, it will grant citizenship to all the displaced Hindus from Bangladesh, Afghanistan and Pakistan, Union Home Ministry has clarified that nobody will be granted citizenship minus the approval of the concerned state governments. Addressing an election rally at Malda in North Bengal on Tuesday, Amit Shah accused the ruling TMC for opposing the humanitarian bill in and outside Parliament. In New Delhi, Speaking about the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill 2016 pending for nod by the Rajya Sabha the Spokesman for the MHA Ashok Pradhan said every application for citizenship will be enquired into first by the Deputy Commissioner and on the basis of the DC’s recommendation, the application will be further probed by the concerned departments under the state governments.   The bill, which has been approved in the Winter Session of the Lok Sabha, seeks to grant Indian Citizenship to Hindus, Christians, Buddhists, Jains and Sikhs who were compelled to leave homes due to religious persecution in Afghanistan, Bangladesh and Pakistan before December 31, 2014.Several parties and organizations in Assam and the north-east are opposing the bill. The Chief Ministers of Meghalaya and Mizoram recently called on Home Minister Rajnath Singh and intimated him that they are staunchly opposed to the bill. As per the tripartite Assam Accord of 1985, the cut off date was fixed at March 24,1971, for  deportation of all undocumented people from Bangladesh. Home Minister Rajnath Singh has repeatedly made it clear that the bill is not Assam or NE specific. Its provisions will be applicable to  all Indian states  and Union Territories. Such people will be allowed to live anywhere in the country .The burden of such persecuted minorities from the three Islamist nations will be shared by all states not only by Assam, he added. Incentives are being considered for such people for encouraging them to leave anywhere except Assam, the Spokesman added. The Bill is expected to be taken up for passage in the Rajya Sabha during the coming Budget Session. Meanwhile, The Assam Tribune reports that The Government of India decided to provide long-term visa to the minority communities in Afghanistan, Pakistan and Bangladesh and a standard operating procedure for the same was formulated in 2016. The members of the minority communities of the three neighbouring countries can apply through an online system with supporting documents for getting long-term visa. They will have to prove that they belong to the minority communities of the three countries and entered India before December 31, 2016. The applications from such migrants would be processed by agencies concerned before they are given long-term visa. Official sources said that any migrant, legal or illegal, after they are granted the long-term visa, would be eligible for private employment in India and can have access to educational and health facilities. They will also be eligible to buy small property and dwelling, and have self employment opportunities. They will also be eligible for opening bank accounts and obtain Aadhaar cards, driving licences, PAN cards, etc., and can move freely within the states for which they will get such visa. The All Assam Students’ Union (AASU) has asserted that providing long-term visa to foreigners would seriously harm the interests of the indigenous people of Assam and other states of the Northeast. The AASU also demanded that the government must withdraw the decision to provide long-term visa to illegal migrants along with the orders amending the Passport (Entry into India) Act and Foreigners Act. Talking to The Assam Tribune, AASU chief adviser Samujjal Bhattacharya said that though the people obtaining long-term visa would not have voting rights, in the long run, there would be a demand for granting them citizenship. Through the Assam Accord, the government promised to detect and deport the foreigners who entered India before the midnight of Match 24, 1971 and now it is trying to provide citizenship to a section of foreigners, who entered up to December 31, 2014. If long-term visa is provided to foreigners, a few years later, there would be a move to grant them citizenship, he said.If foreigners are provided with long-term visa, their number would increase in the days to come and then the government would say that they should be granted citizenship on humanitarian ground. “That is why, the move to grant long-term visa to foreigners is not acceptable,” he added.

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