Opposition tears into CAB, says what about Lanka, Myanmar Hindus


NEW DELHI: Congress dubbed the Citizenship Amendment Bill as discriminatory on religious grounds and violative of the basic structure of the Constitution which renders it illegal, leading the opposition bloc in tearing into the legislation seeking to grant citizenship to refugees from six religions except Islam from three neighbouring countries.
The brunt of the opposition attack, articulated by Congress, DMK, BSP and SP, was that while the bill discriminates against Muslims, it is biased against persecuted individuals including Hindus in Sri Lanka, Myanmar and Nepal which are not included in its ambit. Some members also alleged that CAB was designed to hide the failure of NRC in Assam.
“It is against Articles 14, 15 and 21 of the Constitution which bar discrimination on the basis of religion and state that all laws would be equitable. Secularism is part of the basic framework of the Constitution. The bill is also violative of a key international convenant that India has ratified,” said Congress MP Manish Tewari, who opened the opposition’s critique of the bill.
Alleging arbitrary application of criteria, Tewari said if Islam was the reason for including Pakistan, Bangladesh and Afghanistan in the bill, why was the neighbouring Maldives left out. “CAB is contradictory and should be reviewed,” he said.
Launching a scathing assault on CAB, DMK’s Dayanidhi Maran accused the BJP government of being pre-occupied with Pakistan, arguing that India was superior and should not follow Pakistan if minorities are persecuted there.
Interestingly, UPA’s former Union minister read out from BJP’s election manifesto to say Christians were inserted in the bill as an afterthought. “It is probably the fear of the West, fear of being isolated by the West,” he contended.
Maran underlined the case of exclusion of Lanka. “There are Muslims in Lanka, who are Tamils. What about Tamil Muslims. For 30 years, they have been in our refugee camps. You have not even addressed the issue because of your pre-occupation with hating Muslims,” he said. In a jibe, he said, “There are more than 20 crore Muslims here… they are under constant fear since 2014, they have been persecuted in the name of Cow and with lynching.”
Persisting with the opposition’s theme, NCP’s Supriya Sule asked the government if CAB was being brought because NRC had failed.
Afzal Ansari of BSP pointed to the paradox that while minorities in Pakistan were ill-treated, even Muslims who went there from India were not accepted as equals and dubbed as “Mohajirs”. He urged the government to take the latter back. SP’s ST Hasan expressed concern that NRC would hurt poor Muslims.


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