Bill to grant citizenship to refugees sent to select committee

Parliament-of-IndiaGovernment today bowed to a united opposition’s demand in Lok Sabha of sending the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill, which seeks to help refugees, mostly Hindus, from neighbouring countries in getting citizenship, to a joint select committee.

Bhartruhari Mahtab (BJD) raised the issue soon after Question Hour, saying it was an important bill and needed detailed scrutiny.

India since time immemorial has been giving shelter with open arms to the persecuted people of various faiths, he said while asking the government to send it to a joint committee which could be asked to submit its report in a time-bound manner.

Jyotiraditya Scindia (Congress), Sudip Bandhopadhyay (TMC) and Mohammad Salim (CPI-M) also supported the demand. It was a sensitive issue, Congress MP Scindia said, adding that the opposition was willing to support it but it should be studied first by the committee.

Union Home minister Rajnath Singh said if this was the view of all parties, then he had no problem in sending it to a joint committee.

Keeping its promise to provide succour to refugees from neighbouring countries, the government had last month introduced the bill to amend the Citizenship Act so that Hindus, Sikhs and other minorities of neighbouring countries like Pakistan, Bangladesh and Afghanistan could be granted citizenship even if they do not provide required documents.

There are thousands of Hindus, Sikhs, Jains, Buddhists, Christians and Parsis who have entered India after facing religious persecution in countries like Pakistan, Bangladesh and Afghanistan without any valid document.