India’s President, Ram Nath Kovind passed the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill (CAB), 2019 on Thursday night making it an Act. The law promises Indian citizenship to the non-muslim migrants from three neighbouring countries namely, Pakistan, Bangladesh and Afghanistan.
CAB was passed earlier in the Rajya Sabha on Wednesday and after fierce debates, the bill was passed in the Lok Sabha on Monday. As per the act, Hindus, Jains, Buddhists, Sikhs, Parsis, and Christians from the three countries who have migrated and settled in India till December 31, 2014, will no longer be deemed as illegal migrants even if they don’t hold any valid papers or exceed their stay in India beyond the permitted time period. Rather, they will be granted Indian Citizenship.
Modi government, on the other hand, states that Muslims of the three countries cannot be included in this eligibility as they are not a minority. Pakistan, Bangladesh and Afghanistan are originally Islamic nations and hence Muslims of these countries cannot be considered as a minority.
The Modi Government stated that the CAB is important to protect the non-muslim communities that are facing oppression in these neighbouring countries. This move of the government has attracted massive disagreement, criticism and protests. As far as the political parties are concerned, Congress, Trinamool Congress, Telangana Rashtra Samithi, among few others have expressed deep dissent. These parties are of the opinion that this move of the government is fascist and is absolutely against democracy. Since India is a secular country, sidelining a particular community offends Article 14, 15 of the Constitution.
The passing CAB has also birthed protests and demonstrations in the northeastern states of India.
The bill has especially triggered violence in the state of Assam out of all the other northeastern states. Vehicles have been torched, the homes of politicians are being attacked, railway stations are set on fire, stones are being pelted on the policemen and airports and highways remain to be blocked.
The protestors in the northeastern states are demanding immediate withdrawal of the CAB as they feel that allowing illegal immigrants to settle permanently in the state will disturb their demography, steal the job opportunities, wear out the resources and products meant for the original residents.
Today during the protests, two people were killed in Assam. Thousand have come down on the streets paying no heed to the curfew imposed in several towns and cities which include Guwahati, Dibrugarh, Tezpur and Dhekiajuli.
The Indian Union Muslim League (IUML) has moved to the Supreme Court to challenge the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill (CAB) stating that it violates the fundamental right of equality and discriminates between people by granting Indian Citizenship to people based on religion.