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“Citizenship Amendment Bill can’t be secular”, says BJP leader Himanta Biswa Sarma

Remember, in an Islamic country, how can you convince a court that a person practicing Islam has been religiously mistreated?” Mr. Sarma said

Guwahati: A day after the Union Cabinet shows green signal to the citizenship Amendment bill, Assam BJP leader Himanta Biswa Sarma said that a bill providing citizenship to “religiously persecuted” refugees from Muslim-populated neighbors could never be secular since there was “no religious persecution of Muslims in Pakistan, Afghanistan, and Bangladesh.

Among other provisions, the Citizenship Amendment Bill seeks to make it easier for non-Muslim refugees from these three countries to become Indian citizens.

On Wednesday the drafts costs had been cleared by the Prime Minister Narendra Modi-led Union Cabinet and it is anticipated to be tabled in parliament on Monday. It had been cleared hours after Home Minister Amit Shah determined a string of consultative conferences with governmental frontrunners and municipal community people from the Northeast, to address their particular issues

“CAB will look to protect people who have been religiously mistreated in Pakistan, Afghanistan, and Bangladesh… so how can it be secular? Remember, in an Islamic country, how can you convince a court that a person practicing Islam has been religiously mistreated?” Mr. Sarma said.

“Someone give us a formula on how to probe a person who has been mistreated in Pakistan or Bangladesh for practicing the Quran? If any individual can prove that he has been religiously persecuted, then this matter can be considered,” said Sarma.

Opposition parties have criticized the Citizenship Amendment Bill, said that it discriminates against Muslims. The Congress leader Shashi Tharoor called it “fundamentally unconstitutional”

The CAB draft in an earlier version of this bill passed the Lok Sabha in January which was stalled in the Rajya Sabha and also excluded large parts of the Northeast; specifically it won’t apply to tribal areas of Assam, Meghalaya, Mizoram and Tripura (as in the Sixth Schedule) and area under “The Inner Line” notified under Bengal Eastern Frontier Regulation, 1873.

Party sources said Himanta Biswa Sarma played a key role in consultative meetings between Amit Shah and civil society groups, political parties and Chief Ministers from the Northeast.

When questioned if the BJP’s agenda was to save the majoritarian Hindus who might be excluded by a nationwide NRC exercise – called for by Amit Shah – Mr. Sarma said the latter exercise could only be “proper” after the CAB is passed. He also claimed the public was in favor of the CAB despite protests broke out in Northeast India once again.

“…people have voted for BJP… they are the masters. Our Party said, in elections, we will bring CAB and people have endorsed our opinion,” he said.

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