Teesta Setalvad and Mihir Desai address press conference at Mumbai Press Club on Thursday. (Express photo by Ganesh Shirsekar)
A DAY after Citizenship Amendment Bill was passed by the Rajya Sabha, human rights activists on Thursday condemned it stating that the Bill was discriminatory and violated key provisions of the Constitution, including the right to life, liberty and equality.
In a public meeting convened by Mihir Desai of People’s Union for Civic Liberties and activist Teesta Setalvad, the activists urged citizens to put up a strong opposition to the Bill. Desai pointed out that the Bill is against the basic fiber of the Constitution and turns India into a theocratic state.
He added that the NDA government had been laying grounds for the Citizenship Amendment Bill since 2015 with amendments to Foreigners Order and Passport Rules, which allowed entry to Hindu, Sikhs, Christians from Pakistan and Afghanistan without proper documents.
Setalvad said citizenship gives a person rights in a country. Calling citizenship a relation that an individual has with the state, she added, “If a citizen is equal before the law, why should there be different standards in getting that citizenship?”
Both Setalvad and Desai said they will challenge the Bill in the Supreme Court. “I am disappointed with the way the Supreme Court has reacted on it but that does not mean we will not approach it to challenge the Bill,” Desai said. He added that the Bill was being brought in by the government as it realised that National Register of Citizens (NRC) was not effective in targeting Muslims in Assam.
Setalvad emphasised the need for opposition to rally in states not controlled by the BJP. “The states need to put a strong opposition and not give their consent, as being a federal structure, their nod through Assembly will be important in making the Constitutional amendment.”