India’s Parliament approves citizenship bill. India’s parliament approved a controversial bill of citizenship granting citizenship to minorities facing persecution from three neighboring countries-but excluding Muslims.
The upper house passed the Citizenship Amendment Bill one day after passing the lower house on Wednesday, with 125 representatives voting for it and 105 against it.
Through granting citizenship to “persecuted” minorities-Hindus, Sikhs, Buddhists, Jains, Parsis, and Christians-from Nepal, Afghanistan and Pakistan, the bill introduces sweeping changes to India’s 64-year-old citizenship law.
But critics say the Hindu nationalist ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) legislation undermines the secular constitution of the country, with opposition parties, minority groups, academics, and a U.S. federal panel calling it discriminatory against Muslims.
“This country’s Muslim citizens have no reason to worry,” said Amit Shah, the Hindu federal home minister, in the House. “The purpose of this bill is to give citizenship, not to take away citizenship.”
Several lawmakers from the opposition said the law would be challenged in court.
“The bill is an assault on India’s constitution and democracy. It hurts India’s soul. It fails the morality test,” said Anand Sharma, of India’s main opposition National Congress party.
Meanwhile, Prime Minister Narendra Modi said it was a “landmark day for India” and the passage of the bill will “alleviate the suffering of many who have faced persecution for years.”
“Happy that the #CAB2019 was passed in the #RajyaSabha. Thanks to all the MPs who voted for the bill,” Modi tweeted after the vote.
“There is a palpable sense of fear in areas where Muslim Indian citizens live.” Protests against the measure have flared up in various parts of India, including the ethnically diverse northeast, where people are afraid that undocumented Hindu migrants from neighboring Bangladesh might be given nationality.
Thousands of people protested overnight in Assam state through several towns and cities, some joining processions carrying torches. Police said they were using tear gas in at least two cities to beat back protesters.
Today, in northeastern India, we saw massive protests turning violent. Police responded and fired tear gas on them.
We have also heard that the Indian army is on standby in the state of Asam, “Vohra said.
” Some of these people are protesting that they do not want to give Indian citizenship to any migrant, whether Hindus or Muslim because they want to preserve their indigenous culture, “she said.
Modi’s government–re-elected in May and under pressure from a slowing economy–said that Afghan, Bangladesh, and Pakistani Muslims were exempted from the law because they are not discriminated against in those nations.
Other minorities in the region, such as Tamils from Sri Lanka, Rohingya from Myanmar, and Tibetans from China, are also left out.
Many Muslims in India say that since Modi came to power in 2014 they have been made to feel like second-class citizens.
Several cities perceived to have Islamic-sounding names were renamed, while some school textbooks were changed to downplay the contributions of Muslims to India.
In August, the government of Modi rescinded and split into two the nominal autonomy of Jammu and Kashmir, India’s only Muslim-majority state.
This year, a citizens ‘ registry in Assam concluded left 1.9 million people, many of them Muslims, facing possible statelessness, detention camps, and even deportation.
The government of Modi has stated that it intends to replicate the register nationwide in order to remove all “infiltrators” by 2024. News report on India’s Parliament approves citizenship bill.