Indian lawmakers have approved legislation granting citizenship to migrants from Pakistan, Bangladesh and Afghanistan – but not if they are Muslim. Critics of the government said the legislation undermines the country’s secular constitution, as protests against the law intensified in some parts of the country.
The citizenship amendment bill seeks to grant Indian nationality to Buddhists, Christians, Hindus, Jains, Parsis and Sikhs who fled the three countries before 2015.
The upper house of parliament passed the bill 125-105 on Wednesday night. The lower house had approved it on Monday. It now needs to be signed by the country’s ceremonial president, a formality before becoming law.
The bill was introduced by the Hindu nationalist-led government of the prime minister, Narendra Modi, following his resounding election victory in May. He said it was a “landmark day for India” and the law would “alleviate the suffering of many who faced persecution for years”.
Introducing the bill in the upper house, the home minister, Amit Shah, said it was not anti-Muslim because it did not affect the existing path to citizenship available to all communities.
Several opposition lawmakers who debated the bill in parliament said it would be challenged in court. “Today marks a dark day in the constitutional history of India,” said Sonia Gandhi of the main opposition Congress party.
Source: The Guardian