The Lok Sabha on Tuesday passed a bill that gives Indian citizenship to non-Muslim migrants from Bangaldesh, Pakistan and Afghanistan, but is bitterly opposed in Assam and others places in northeast India.
The Citizenship (Amendment) Bill 2019 was not against the provisions of the Constitution and would give succour to persecuted minorities in the three neighbouring countries, said Home Minister Rajnath Singh in Lok Sabha.
The Bill provides for according citizenship to Hindus, Jains, Christians, Sikhs, Buddhists and Parsis from Bangladesh, Pakistan and Afghanistan after six years of residence in India instead of 12 years even if they do not possess any document.
"They have no place to go except India," Singh said. "The beneficiaries of the bill can reside in any state of the country." But there is significant opposition to the proposal, in particular in Assam, where residents have for years complained that immigrants from Bangladesh have put a big strain on resources.
Singh tried to reassure Assam it would not have to bear any burden alone.
"The burden of those persecuted migrants will be shared by the whole country. Assam alone should not have to bear the entire burden," he said.
(With inputs from PTI and Reuters)