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December 10, 2019

Protests as India pushes for citizenship bill

Top Story

December 10, 2019

GUWAHATI/MUMBAI: Hundreds of protesters took to the streets in India on Monday as Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government offered a controversial bill in parliament that would give citizenship to non-Muslim minorities from three neighboring countries.

Demonstrators displayed placards during a protest against the Citizenship Amendment Bill, a bill that seeks to give citizenship to religious minorities allegedly persecuted in neighbouring Muslim countries, says a UK-based international wire agency.

Home Minister Amit Shah introduced the Citizenship Amendment Bill (CAB) in the lower house amid a raucous debate. Opposition parties stood against the proposed law that would, for the first time, create a legal pathway to grant Indian nationality on the basis of religion. The bill was originally introduced in 2016 during the Modi government’s first term but lapsed after protests and an alliance partner’s withdrawal.

It proposes to grant Indian citizenship to non-Muslims who came to India from Bangladesh, Pakistan and Afghanistan before 2015. Opposition politicians inside parliament, and protesters in several Indian cities, said the bill discriminated against Muslims and violated India’s secular constitution.

Shah and Modi’s ruling Bharatiya Janata Party, which had included the CAB as part of its manifesto in the last general election, insist that it is necessary. “In these three countries, Hindus, Buddhists, Sikhs, Jains, Parsis and Christians, followers of these six religions have been tormented,” Shah alleged, before the bill was tabled after a vote.