New Delhi, Jan 8: Under attack by opposition parties on The Citizenship Bill, the ruling BJP on Tuesday fielded their Bengali speaking Sikh lawmaker S S Ahluwalia to defend the government policy on the draft law that seeks to allow Hindu, Sikh, Buddhist, Jain, Parsi or Christian religious groups coming from Afghanistan, Bangladesh or Pakistan to be granted citizenship and not to be imprisoned or deported.
Speaking on the Bill - which has been in the thick of controversy - Mr Ahluwalia said: "I also come from a family whose forefathers lived in Sialkot".
"My people were uprooted from Sialkot, tell me what is my offense that my people and brothers were uprooted from their homes because they faced religious persecution," he said.
He said the Home Minister Rajnath Singh in his opening remarks have made it clear that Bill is not only aimed at addressing the issues concerning the state of Assam.
"This Bill is for also for those who have to come from across the border in Afghanistan and Pakistan...the Bill seeks to grant citizenship to Sikhs, Buddhists, Jains, Parsis or Christians who come from these countries," he said.
The Bill was introduced in 2016 and adhering to the wishes of the opposition members, the draft law was rightly referred to the Joint Parliamentary Committee - which gave its report on Monday.
Waxing eloquently in Bangla, the vocal MP from Darjeeling in West Bengal, Mr Ahluwalia said "Those who wanted to create Pakistan, wanted a nation where only one religion group can reside".
In this context, he cited a study report by a Dhaka-based academician that during partition Pakistan had 23 per cent non-Muslims, but now that population has dwindled to mere three per cent.
"Similarly, in Bangladesh, the population of non-Muslims were 29 per cent; but today it is 8.5 per cent," he said adding there have been repeated persecution of religious minorities in Pakistan during the wars in 1947, 1965 and also 1971.
Trying to assure the citizens of Assam, he also said that the Bill is no way seeks to ensure that those guaranteed citizenship will have to reside only in Assam.
"They are being given citizenship, but that does not mean everyone will go and reside in Assam," he said adding such people will be accommodated in other parts of India also.
Moreover, he said it is not true that such 'rights' to Hindus, Parsis and Christians are being given for the first time. Even in 2004, there was an amendment in rules regarding Citizenship law that allowed people uprooted in Afghanistan and Pakistan can stay in select parts of Gujarat and Rajasthan. (UNI)