Outcry over bid to amend citizenship laws in India

BJP proposal gives illegals from neighbouring countries citizenship, but Muslims excluded

Demonstrators in Assam's capital, Guwahati, protesting on May 7 against the Citizenship Amendment Bill 2016 that opens up Indian citizenship to minorities from Bangladesh, Pakistan and Afghanistan.
Demonstrators in Assam's capital, Guwahati, protesting on May 7 against the Citizenship Amendment Bill 2016 that opens up Indian citizenship to minorities from Bangladesh, Pakistan and Afghanistan. PHOTO: AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE
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Equality and secularism are core ideals of the Indian state. The preamble to the Indian Constitution, which sets out its guiding principles, lists both in no unclear terms. Now, a proposed amendment to India's citizenship rules that falls foul of this noble vision has generated widespread unease in the country.

The Citizenship Amendment Bill 2016, which went in for public consultation earlier this month, seeks to open up citizenship to illegal migrants from six communities from Afghanistan, Bangladesh and Pakistan if they have been in India for at least six years and arrived on or before Dec 31, 2014. The communities are Hindus, Sikhs, Buddhists, Jains, Parsis and Christians.

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on May 28, 2018, with the headline Outcry over bid to amend citizenship laws in India. Subscribe