SHRI SURESH PACHOURI: Madam, Dr. Manmohan Singh wants to say something about the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill.
THE DEPUTY CHAIRMAN: Let Advaniji move the motion, then, I will allow him.
THE CITIZENSHIP (AMENDMENT) BILL, 2003.
THE MINISTER OF HOME AFFAIRS (SHRI L.K. ADVANI): I move:
THE DEPUTY CHAIRMAN
r. Manmohan Singh, do you want to say something?
THE LEADER OF THE OPPOSITION (DR. MANMOHAN SINGH): Madam, I join the hon. Deputy Prime Minister in paying our tribute to the great sense of creativity of Indian diaspora. They have proved, if any proof was needed, that given suitable opportunities, we Indians are second to none. Their knowledge, their wealth, their experience and expertise is a great national reservoir which can be tapped for the benefit of our country. Therefore, we are fully in support of measures to strengthen the emotional link between our country and members of the Indian diaspora.
Indeed, the first steps in this context were taken when our Government was in office in 1995. If I remember correctly, Dr. Singhvi was then the Indian High Commissioner, and I am very happy that those initial efforts have fructified in the form of a Bill, which confers the right of overseas citizenship on people of Indian origin in specified countries. We are fully in support of this measure.While I am on this subject, Madam, I would like to point out that with regard to the treatment of refugees after the Partition of our country, the minorities in countries like Bangladesh, have faced persecution, and it is our moral obligation that if circumstances force people, these unfortunate people, to seek refuge in our country, our approach to granting citizenship to these unfortunate persons should be more liberal. I sincerely hope that the hon. Deputy Prime Minister will bear this in mind in charting out the future course of action with regard to the Citizenship Act.
THE DEPUTY CHAIRMAN : Mr. Advani, the minorities in Pakistan are also suffering. They have to be taken care of too.
SHRI L. K. ADVANI : Madam, I fully endorse that view.
SHRI SHANKAR ROY CHOWDHURY (WEST BENGAL) : Madam, I wish to speak on this.
THE DEPUTY CHAIRMAN : Nobody is speaking on this. Even Dr. L. M. Singhvi, who was heading this committee, has withdrawn his name.
AN HON. MEMBER : Madam, since he has done so much for the country, he should be allowed to speak.
SHRI SHANKAR ROY CHOWDHURY : Madam, with your indulgence, I would like to convey further what Dr. Manmohan Singh has spoken about refugees. And it is an issue I had taken up with the hon. Deputy Prime Minister. From Bangladesh, we are getting a wide variety of people who are entering into our country illegally, all of them. Some are economic migrants whom you see all over the country, be it Mumbai, Delhi or Calcutta. Some are infiltrators, terrorists. But a large number of them are religious minorities facing persecution, Chakmas, Hindus, Buddhists, many of them. I urge the Government again, through you, Madam -- I earnestly urge the Government -- minorities fleeing Bangladesh for the fear of persecution should be given citizenship and should be treated in a supportive and kind manner.
Thank you very much.