Published: Wed, December 11, 2019
Global News | By Blake Casey

Indian protesters stage shutdown against citizenship bill

Indian protesters stage shutdown against citizenship bill

The controversial Citizenship Amendment Bill (CAB) which was passed in the Lok Sabha at 12.02 on Tuesday amid massive furore from the Opposition has attracted attention of the federal United States commission on global religious freedom which has called the CAB a "dangerous turn in wrong direction" and sought American sanctions against Home Minister Amit Shah if the bill is passed by both houses of Parliament.

They see the new measure, called the Citizenship Amendment Bill, as the first step by the governing party to make second-class citizens of India's 200 million Muslims, one of the largest Muslim populations in the world, and render many of them stateless.

Indian Home Minister Amit Shah has said "the Bill does not come in conflict with any of the articles of the Constitution".

"India's citizens are its citizens irrespective of what faith they follow or don't, what they eat, what work they do, their caste, creed, place of residence, gender or color of skin", tweeted Sitaram Yechury, general secretary of Communist Party of India (Marxist).

The US Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) said in a statement here on Monday that it was "deeply troubled" by the draft legislation which passed in the Lok Sabha on Monday midnight after division of votes with 311 in its favour and 80 against it.

Following this, the Shiv Sena has been displaying a debilitating stance, with Maharashtra Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray even stating on Tuesday that the Shiv Sena will not lend support to the Citizenship Amendment Bill at the Rajya Sabha "unless things are clear", adding that they have suggested certain changes in the Bill that they want before supporting it in the Rajya Sabha.

In his reply to over six-hour-long debate on the Bill, Shah insisted that the proposed law does not discriminate against Indian Muslims but aimed at protecting continued persecution of minorities in Afghanistan, Bangladesh, and Pakistan.

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News of the bill's passage was met with protest around India.

The opposition parties in India have called the Bill unconstitutional, adding that it goes against India's secular identity and propagates the idea of alienation of Muslims, which could also in the future prove to be detrimental to the Muslims living in India as well. The Sena, however, said the illegal immigrants staying in India should be sent back to their countries of origin, a stated position of the BJP.

Home Minister Amit Shah cited "reasonable classification" as the basis for excluding Muslims from these countries.

The federal USA commission on global religious freedom said the introduction of CAB along with the ongoing National Register of Citizens (NRC) process has instilled fears that the "religious test" would strip millions of Muslims of their citizenship. It seeks to address their current difficulties and meet their basic human rights.

The statement, attributed to Kumar, claimed the "recent record of granting such citizenship would bear out the Government of India's objectivity in that regard". "Suggestions to that effect are motivated and unjustified", the MEA statement read.

U.S. President Donald Trump and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi during a bilateral meeting at the G-7 summit in Biarritz, France, August 26, 2019.

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