A new citizenship bill being proposed by the Central Government may make things tough for Assam and West Bengal where much of immigration is occurring without valid documentation
The Citizenship (Amendment) Bill 2016,is an amendment to the Citizenship Act, 1955 which is a law that deals with the “acquisition and determination of Indian citizenship”. Security sources fear that the amendment is likely to benefit illegal Bangladeshi immigrants who are trying to get citizenship of India.
Amendment Seeks To Provide Citizenship to Persecuted Minorities
Under the amendment, the Government of India intends to provide citizenship to people who have been forced to migrate from neighbouring countries like Afghanistan, Pakistan, and Bangladesh as a result of religious persecution .
The law intends to offer citizenship to Hindus, Buddhists, Sikhs, Parsis, Jains and Christians who have entered the country without travel documents and are forced adopt the naturalisation process to get citizenship despite being people of Indian origin. It will include all those who have come into the country six years before.
The bill currently does not include illegal Muslim migrants.
A parliamentary joint committee is currently reviewing the bill known as Citizenship (Amendment) Bill, 2016, after it was introduced in Lok Sabha in 2016.
Migrants From Bangladesh have No Records
According to security sources, in the north eastern states of Assam and West Bengal there is no way for government agencies to identify and establish the legal status of the migrants coming in from Bangladesh.
The security experts pointed out that minorities entering from northern states Pakistan and Afghanistan have entered India with proper travel documents like passport and visa which makes it possible for the government to track their time of entry.
However in case of migrants from Bangladesh authorities have no records regarding their entry. Security experts are argue that without records, migrants can claim that they have entered six years ago which may not be fully ascertainable.
New Law May Jeopardise Existing Measures
The Assam government is currently updating the 1951 National Register of Citizens (NRC), in order to detect undocumented aliens from the neighbouring country residing in the state. Security sources allege that the constitutional amendment being proposed can jeopardize this process.
The security experts also lamented the lack of law dealing with refugees in India even after 70 years of Independence despite India being a signatory to the United Nations Convention on Refugees.
According to some estimates, there are currently 40,000 Rohingya refuges from Myanmar in the country. Identity cards issued to some by the United Nations High Commission are yet to be approved by the Government of India.
With respect to Tibetan refugees, sources noted that as there are proper records regarding their entry, identity cards issued to them by the Central Tibetan Administration have been recognized by the Indian government.