Chairman of the Joint Parliamentary Committee on Citizenship (Amendment) Bill, 2016 and BJP MP from Merut Rajendra Agrawal. File photo: UB Photos

Joint Parliamentary Committee on Citizenship (Amendment) Bill, 2016 concluded its visit to Meghalaya and admitted strong opposition against the bill. On the first day on Thursday, the JPC team led by its chairman and BJP MP from Meerut, Rajendra Agrawal, conducted hearings at the State Convention Centre in Shillong and accepted petitions submitted by various groups and some individuals who all opposed the Bill.

Protests were also staged in the City on Thursday on the ground that the Bill if allowed to be passed in Parliament will facilitate granting Indian citizenship to Hindus, Sikhs, Buddhists, Jains, Parsis and Christians, from Bangladesh, Afghanistan, and Pakistan when they come to India illegally before December 31, 2014 to escape from religious persecution, even if they do not provide necessary documents.

On the concluding day, the JPC team did not conduct any hearing, but officials of Meghalaya government represented by Chief Secretary Yeshi Tsering and officials from the state home department including Director General of Police, SB Singh met the JPC team. No memorandum was submitted to the committee.

The NPP-led Meghalaya Democratic Alliance (MDA) government has already taken a decision in the cabinet to oppose the Bill.

“The committee is entrusted with the task to visit various states and meet respective stakeholders and take their views on the issue. The committee will submit its recommendations and will mention that various states opposed it (Bill),” Agrawal said.

Whatever views and suggestions received, Agrawal said, “It is the duty of the JPC to incorporate while making the recommendations. We are the Committee of Parliament to study views of stake holders.”

Rajya Sabha MP from Assam, Bhubaneswar Kalita who is also the member of the JPC admitted that during the visit to Meghalaya, and meeting with various stakeholders, everyone opposed the amendment bill.

“There were rather demands for implementation of ILP raised by some groups,” he said.

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