Sukhbir Badal addresses the dharna of Shiromani Akali Dal in Moga. (Express Photo by Gurmeet Singh)
BJP ally Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) Sunday hailed the NDA government’s decision to introduce the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill in Parliament, saying that a long-pending demand of the party had been accepted. However, it said that the Bill must cover all persecuted people irrespective of religion. It said keeping in view the country’s socialistic, secular and democratic credentials as well as humanitarian principles, Muslims should not be excluded from the Bill on the basis of religion.
A decision to this effect was taken at a meeting of the party’s core committee which was presided over the SAD president Sukhbir Singh Badal at Badal village in Muktsar. The meeting appreciated the Citizen Amendment Bill unreservedly and said the NDA government had fulfilled the demand of the SAD as well as all minorities including Sikhs, Hindus, Jain, Budhists, Parsis and Christians who had fled religious persecution in Pakistan, Afghanistan and Bangladesh and taken refuge in India.
Sukhbir noted that the party had been raising the issue of more than 75,000 Sikhs who had fled Afghanistan more than 30 years back and were living in Delhi in very difficult straits. He said besides this Sikhs and Hindus and even people from other communities had fled Pakistan and Bangladesh and sought refuge in India but were denied any rights. “The Citizen Amendment Bill not only franchises them but also protects their life and liberty as per the Constitution of the country”.
The core committee, while lauding Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Home Minister Amit Shah for this historic legislation, said efforts should be made to encompass all persecuted people under the Bill and not to have any distinction based on religion. The committee said this would not only be in resonance with the secular spirit of the constitution but also the principles of the Guru Sahiban who preached that we should not discriminate against anyone based on caste or creed. “Accordingly, a clause should be inserted in the Bill stating that all persecuted people who had sought refuge in the country would be given citizenship irrespective of their religion”.
The core committee said inserting this clause in the Bill before passing it in Parliament would not only be a sign of true statesmanship but would also repay the faith of the persecuted people who sought refuge in India keeping in view the country’s ancient tradition of accepting people of all faiths with open hands.
The core committee meeting was attended by Balwinder Singh Bhundur, Prof Prem Singh Chandumajra, Jathedar Tota Singh, Janmeja Singh Sekhon, Gulzar Singh Ranike, Maheshinder Singh Grewal, Sikandar Singh Malooka, Bikram Singh Majithia, Dr Daljit Singh Cheema, Charanjit Singh Atwal, Sharanjit Singh Dhillon, Surjit Singh Rakhra and Baldev Singh Mann.
At the meeting, upcoming election of SAD president was also discussed. This is scheduled for December 14. Sukhbir Singh Badal is the party president at the moment. NRC Bill, suspension of DSP in Ludhiana, farmers’ issues were among issues that were discussed.