P Chidambaram’s six questions encapsulate fundamentals of opposition to Citizenship (Amendment) Bill

During the debate on the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill in the Rajya Sabha, senior Congress leader and former home minister P Chidambaram posed six key questions to the government on the legality of the proposed law. He termed the Bill as one which provides for citizenship by “arbitrary executive fiat”.

In short but strongly-worded remarks, Chidambaram dared the government to put forward the opinion of the law department, or invite the Attorney-General to speak on the points mentioned by him. He also alleged that the government is “ramming through” the Bill despite knowing it is unconstitutional, only to advance its Hindutva agenda.

Here are the six questions raised by Chidambaram —

-“Why is the government grouping together three countries — Afghanistan, Pakistan and Bangladesh — and leaving out others?”

-“Why has it identified only six religious groups — Hindus, Sikhs, Buddhists, Jains, Parsis, and Christians — and left out others like Ahmadiyyas, Rohingyas and Hazaras?”

-“There are three Abrahamic religions — Judaism, Christianity and Islam. Why has Christianity been included, and the other two been left out?”

-“Why have Sri Lankan Hindus and Bhutanese Christians been left out? This is beyond common sense and logic.”

-“Why does the Bill address only religious persecution? Are people not persecuted for political reasons?”

-“Does the Bill violate the three fundamental elements of Article 14? There must be equality before law, any classification of people must not be unreasonable, and even if a classification is reasonable, it must not be arbitrary.”

Chidambaram further lamented, “We are wrecking the Constitution from within. Fortunately, we have three organs of the government. The executive is complicit and the legislature is being invited to collaborate. Hopefully, the judiciary will strike it down and save the idea of India.”

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Muslims have nothing to fear, insists Amit Shah

Earlier in the day, home minister Amit Shah moved the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill in the Rajya Sabha and sought to assuage the concerns of Indian Muslims by saying they have nothing to fear as they are and will remain citizens of India.

No one will harass members of the community, the minister stressed as he moved the bill that provides Indian citizenship to Hindus, Sikhs, Buddhists, Jains, Parsis, and Christians who illegally migrated to India from Afghanistan, Bangladesh and Pakistan.

Shah said the proposed legislation will give persecuted minorities of the three neighbouring nations the right to education, jobs and livelihood.

Several MPs of Opposition parties moved motions to send the bill, which was passed by the Lok Sabha on Monday, to the select committee of the Upper House for detailed consideration before it is passed.

The Bill and the Opposition’s motion will be put to vote after a debate on it.

“Muslims have nothing to fear,” Shah said. “…confusion, misinformation is being spread that this bill is specifically against the Muslim community. For the Muslims of this country, there is no question of debate or concern. They are citizens (of India), will remain citizens and no one will harass them.”

The government, however, does not want to give citizenship to illegal Muslim migrants from other countries.

“Do you want that Muslims who have come from Pakistan should be made citizens? Muslims who have come from Bangladesh should be made citizens? Muslims who have come from Afghanistan should be made citizens?. Should we give citizenship to Muslims coming from all over the world? How can we run the country like this?” he asked.

Describing the proposed legislation as a historic bill, Shah said it will rekindle a new ray of hope among lakhs and crores of people who were harassed in neighbouring countries.

With inputs from PTI

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