India clears citizenship bill for immigrants, except for Muslims, for lawmakers

5th Dec 2019
India clears citizenship bill for immigrants, except for Muslims, for lawmakers

By Riyaz ul Khaliq

 

(AA): India’s government on Wednesday cleared amendments to the country’s citizenship laws to award citizenship to migrants from neighboring countries.

With the new act granting citizenship to “illegal migrants from Pakistan, Bangladesh and Afghanistan,” it does not mention country’s largest minority — Muslims.

Speaking last month in the province of West Bengal, Interior Minister Amit Shah said: “I assure all refugees — Hindu, Sikh, Jain, Buddhist and Christian — that the Government of India would not ask any one of them to leave the country.”

Addressing BJP parliamentarians on Tuesday, India’s Defense Minister Rajnath Singh said: “Minorities in the neighboring theocratic countries have been subjected to continuous persecution, which forced them to seek asylum in India.”

“Giving citizenship to six minorities [including Parsis] is in the spirit of Sarva Dharma Sambhav,” he said.

Sarva Dharma Sambhav is a Hindu concept embodying the equality of the destination of all religions.

The amendment bill must be ratified in parliament before being formally adopted and is expected to come before lawmakers in the coming days.

The cabinet led by Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) cleared the amendments early on Wednesday, according to Press Trust of India.

The BJP enjoys a clear majority in the lower legislative house, Lok Sabha, where the bill is expected to smoothly pass. However, the amendment may face opposition in the upper house, Rajya Sabha, where it is in minority, though it has in the past been able to gain cross-party support for its bills.

[Map of India by US Embassy in India/Public Domain]

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