The Citizenship Act, 1995 was proposed to an amendment on the 15th July, 2016. The Act has been altered to include the following-
“Provided that persons belonging to minority communities, namely, Hindus, Sikhs, Buddhists, Jains, Parsis and Christians from Afghanistan, Bangladesh and Pakistan, who have been exempted by the Central Government by or under clause (c) of sub-section (2) of section 3 of the Passport (Entry into India) Act, 1920 or from the application of the provisions of the Foreigners Act, 1946 or any order made thereunder, shall not be treated as illegal migrants for the purposes of this Act.”
The recent outbursts in Assam, primarily led by the All Assam Students Union, on this issue has elevated to a large extent inviting focus of the Central Government to review its decision of recognizing the Hindu immigrants from Bangladesh for an Indian Citizenship. They have urged the Government to pay a visit to the state to analyze their decision further. They have also hinted at a possibility of the state witnessing a comeback of the ‘Anti-Foreigner Movement’ in the 1980s, if their demands are overlooked.
The Assamese have been suffering from an Identity Crisis, leading to the Assam Accord in 1985. The Accord provided the Assamese culture and language with a protective shield post the Anti-Foreigner Movement. There have been several discords of the definition of an ‘Assamese’ as well.
This series of historical conjunctures make this Amendment quite a sensitive issue to be dealt with, in the State. However, this move by the Central Government would terminate the requirement of valid travel documents or valid proof of Indian Citizenship since Citizenship could be availed by means of naturalization. This process requires the proof of an intention to reside within the territory of India for not less than six years*. Thus allowing the Hindus and other mentioned communities of Non- Indian origins to abandon their status of being ‘Illegal Immigrants’. In my opinion, this would merely increase the citizenship count thus requiring more resources to fund the increased demands, after, of course, stirring the public order situation in Assam. It must be the prerogative of the State to primarily protect the public interest and all decisions must be furthered from this notion. This move, would require contemplation on the lines of what would prove to be a greater good for the society.