Muslim organization terms Citizenship Bill unconstitutional

New Delhi: Jamaat-e-Islami Hind has called the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill 2016, highly discriminatory and unconstitutional.

 Addressing a press conference here on Saturday, JIH Secretary General Muhammad Salim Engineer said: “This bill is highly discriminatory and against the spirit of the Constitution of India and as it proposes to grant citizenship to people from Bangladesh, Pakistan and Afghanistan according to their religion. Thus Hindus from Bangladesh would be accepted but not Muslims’’.

Regarding the NRC issue the Secretary General said: “We are deeply concerned with the publication of the National Register of Citizens (NRC) in Assam. Thus far the NRC has held 1.9 crore people of the 3.3 crore applications to be valid and bonafide citizens of India. The fate of 1.4 crore people still hangs in balance. The final list is expected to come out by end of July 2018. According to the Assam Accord signed in 1985, anyone who entered the state after 24 March 1971 is considered an illegal resident. However, if a person is accused of being a foreigner, then the onus of proof (to prove citizenship) lies on the accused. But genuine citizens who are impoverished and could not maintain proper records are impacted and now face the brunt of being branded as foreigners. Most are declared foreigners due to minor inaccuracies in their documents. The number of those declared as foreigners has increased dramatically after the BJP government came to power in Assam. Jamaat expects that the government agencies entrusted with the task of preparing the list of legal citizens shall discharge their duty diligently and without bias. Those in power in the state and the Center should also ensure that communal elements are reined in and law and order is maintained in Assam. Jamaat-e-Islami Hind was part of a fact finding team consisting of eminent journalists and human rights activists that recently visited Assam to find out how the NRC process was being implemented.  Its recommendations would be released in a separate press conference’’.

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