Citizenship (Amendment) Bill: Hindu population has decreased from 84 to 79 per cent

Vikash Aiyappa

New Delhi, Dec 11: The Muslim population in India has increased from 9.8 per cent in 1951 to 14.8 per cent in 2011 while the Hindu population has decreased from 84 per cent in 1951 to 79 per cent in 2011.

This was part of the debate in the Parliament during the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill. According to the legislation, members of Hindu, Sikh, Buddhist, Jain, Parsi and Christian communities, who have come from Pakistan, Bangladesh and Afghanistan, till December 31, 2014, facing religious persecution there, will not be treated as illegal immigrants but given Indian citizenship.

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In a hard-hitting reply to the debate on the proposed legislation, Union Home Minister Amit Shah said people belonging to any religion should not have any fear under the Modi government as he asserted that the bill will give relief to those minorities who have been living a painful life after facing persecution in neighbouring countries.

Shah also said the Modi government will definitely implement the National Register of Citizens (NRC) across the country and when it will be done, not a single illegal immigrant will remain in the country.

Shah said there is a difference between illegal immigrants and those who have come after facing religious persecution in the three neighbouring countries.

"No one should have any fear of being persecuted under the Narendra Modi government," he said after nearly seven-hour-long debate which was marked by fiery speeches by MPs belonging to both the opposition and the ruling alliance.

The home minister said had India not been divided into religious lines in 1947, there was no need for the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill.

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"Muslim population in India has increased from 9.8 per cent in 1951 to 14.8 per cent in 2011 while the Hindu population has decreased from 84 per cent in 1951 to 79 per cent in 2011.

"Whereas, the minority population in Pakistan has decreased from 23 per cent in 1947 to 3.7 per cent in 2011. Similarly, minority population in Bangladesh has decreased from 22 per cent in 1947 to 7 per cent in 2011," he said, adding India does not discriminate against anyone on the basis of religion.

The home minister said the Citizenship Bill will give relief and constitutional respect to those who have been living a painful life after facing persecution in neighbouring countries.

Shah dismissed the suggestions that the Bill is violative of Article 14 of the Constitution, which guarantees equality for everyone, as it aims to give citizenship to persecuted people only.

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"This Bill is not unconstitutional and not in violation of Article 14 and has nothing to do with Muslims in India," he said but made it clear that Rohingya Muslims, coming from Myanmar, will not be given Indian citizenship.

The home minister countered the Congress charges that the bill is communal in nature, by taking a dig at the opposition party, saying "Congress is such a secular party which partners Muslim League in Kerala and Shiv Sena in Maharashtra".

"Modi government's only religion is the Constitution," he asserted.

He also said India doesn't need a refugee policy as the country has enough laws for the protection of refugees.

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