Cleared by Cabinet, CAB exempts Arunachal, Nagaland, Mizoram

New Delhi: Paving the way for Parliament to take up the contentious Citizenship (Amendment) Bill, the Union Cabinet on Wednesday approved the draft law that seeks to grant citizenship to non-Muslim refugees from Pakistan, Bangladesh and Afghanistan if they faced religious persecution there.

Slammed by the Opposition as divisive and communal, the bill is a key part of the BJP’s ideological project as it proposes citizenship to non-Muslim, mostly Hindus, refugees living in India and will protect them from the nation-wide NRC drive the central government is planning to identify illegal immigrants.

Inner Permit Areas

Taking into consideration the concerns of Northeastern states, the inner line permit areas of Arunachal, Nagaland and Mizoram and regions under the Sixth Schedule in the North East have been exempted from the Citizenship Amendment Bill, which was cleared by the Union Cabinet on Wednesday.

Bill was tabled earlier too: The Modi government had tabled the bill in Parliament in the last year of its previous term as well. Lok Sabha had passed it but it was blocked by Rajya Sabha.

The government is believed to have effected certain changes in the previous version of the bill in its new avatar.

Despite facing serious opposition, including from allies, the ruling BJP has expressed its determination time and again to the bill.

Senior party leader and Defence Minister Rajnath Singh had on Tuesday asked BJP MPs to be present in large numbers in Parliament when the bill is tabled.

This bill is as important as the move to nullify Article 370, he had said to underscore its ideological importance for the saffron party.

India Hindu Rashtra: India is a ‘Hindu Rashtra’ since the community accounts for about 100 crore of the country’s total population. “The population of Hindus is 100 crore. So obviously India is a Hindu Rashtra. There are so many Muslim and Christian countries. It is amazing that we have a country called ‘Bharat’ to keep alive our culture,” the lawmaker told ANI.

In a related development, Minister of State for Home Affairs Nityanand Rai earlier today told the Parliament that the National Register of Citizens (NRC) will not be conducted on religious lines.

No Country For Muslims: India – No country for Muslims,” a message posted through the Peoples Democratic Party chief’s Twitter handle claimed, hours after the Union cabinet cleared the controversial bill for tabling in the parliament.

What does it mean

This means that beneficiaries under CAB will become Indian citizens but will not be able to settle in Arunachal, Nagaland and Mizoram. As a matter of fact, the same restriction applies to existing Indian citizens. At the same time, a large part of Assam, Meghalaya and Tripura will be out of the purview of the contentious bill due to them being under Sixth Schedule areas.

Nothing shall apply to…

Nothing in this section shall apply to Assam, Meghalaya and Tripura as included in the Sixth Schedule to the Constitution, and to the areas covered under the inner line notified under Bengal Eastern Frontier Regulation, 1873,” the Bill mentions. At the briefing, I&B minister Prakash Javadekar said the government has taken care of the interests of everyone and “the interest of India”.