India’s Lok Sabha passes Citizenship Amendment Bill to grant citizenship to non-Muslim refugees

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New Delhi — India’s lower house of parliament known as “Lok Sabha” passed Citizenship Amendment Bill on Monday after 311 members favored it while 80 opposed it. The bill aims at providing Indian citizenship to non-Muslim refugees escaping from the neighboring Muslim countries.

The debate in Lok Sabha lasted for about seven hours, which debated about pros and cons of passing the bill. Indian Muslim member of parliament Asaduddin Owaisi tore the bill while quoting Mahatma Gandhi who tore national register card of South Africa.

Several amendment brought by opposition members including one by right-wing Hindu organization Shiv Sena MP, were either defeated by voice vote or by a division.

The bill proposes that the followers of Hindu, Sikh, Buddhist, Jain, Parsi and Christian faiths, who escaped to India due to religious prosecution in Pakistan, Bangladesh and Afghanistan till December 31, 2014, will be granted Indian citizenship.

Owaisi opposed the bill due to its communal nature, he said that it violates various provisions of the constitution, including the move to grant citizenship on the basis of religion.

While defending the bill, Home Minister Amit Shah said, “the bill has nothing to do with Indian Muslims. The bill only intends to provide protection to the persecuted minorities in Pakistan, Afghanistan and Bangladesh.”

“We will have to differentiate between intruders and refugees. Citizenship amendment bill does not discriminate against anyone and does not snatch anyone’s rights,” Shah said.