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Protests Erupt in India's Assam after Cabinet Approves Contentious Citizenship Bill

© AP Photo / Anupam NathPolice officers in Assam. (File)
Police officers in Assam. (File) - Sputnik International
New Delhi (Sputnik): Prime Minister Narendra Modi's cabinet has approved a controversial citizenship amendment bill that will allow Hindus, Sikhs, Buddhists, Jains, Parsis, and Christians from neighbouring countries to settle in India.

India’s north-eastern state of Assam witnessed protests on Wednesday after the country’s cabinet approved the proposed Citizenship Amendment Bill.

The legislation will allow minority immigrants from India’s three Muslim-majority neighbours - Afghanistan, Bangladesh and Pakistan – to become Indian citizens.

In contrast to this legislation, the Indian government has been preparing to launch a national register of citizenship nationwide which is aimed at deporting people who have entered illegally from neighbouring countries, especially Muslim-majority Bangladesh and Buddhist-majority Myanmar, which is home to a persecuted Muslim minority.

The State’s leading minority organisation, Assam Sangkyalaghu (Minority) Sangram Parishad, staged a protest against the Bill and burnt effigies of Indian Home Minister Amit Shah and Assam state chief Sarbananda Sonowal.

The all Assam Students' Union has been protesting against the bill. The Union’s chief adviser Samujjal Bhattacharya, after meeting Indian home minister Amit Shah, said: “They're planning to bring Citizenship Amendment Bill as it's good for the country, we said it's bad for Assam & northeast. Movement against the Bill will continue throughout Assam.”

​​Parliamentarians Oppose Proposed Legislation

Indian parliamentarian Shashi Tharoor and Assam Pradesh Congress Committee Chief Ripun Bora have also raised objections over the approval of the bill.

Tharoor, a parliamentarian from the southern state of Kerala, said: “I am opposed to the Citizenship Amendment Bill. It is fundamentally against the tenets of democracy. I speak for myself. Can’t discriminate on the basis of religion.”

The legislation was previously introduced in parliament, but the Upper House rejected it saying that “right to citizenship is for all and not for specific religions”.

Ripun Bora, the PCC Chief in Assam, said: “Government has denied persecution of Hindus. This will further disturb demography of North-east states. Assam NRC is yet to meet its objectives.”

It was further argued that the legislation would create “ethnic divisions” in the country, especially in Assam.

However, Indian minister Prakash Javadekar, a member of the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party, said during a press briefing that the bill is in national interest and not against anyone. Meanwhile, Political leaders and members of civil society are also condemning the bill.


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