Muslims challenge contentious Citizenship (Amendment) Bill after Parliament passes it

COLOMBO (The Island/ANN) - Indian Union Home Minister defends Citizenship (Amendment) Bill challenged by Muslims, as not discriminating based on religion.

The Rajya Sabha, the upper house of Indian Parliament, on Wednesday passed the contentious Citizenship (Amendment) Bill (CAB), 2019, with 125 votes in favour and 99 against. The current strength of the Upper House is 240.

The Bill amends the Citizenship Act, 1955, and for the first time, will grant citizenship on the basis of religion to non-Muslim communities from Afghanistan, Bangladesh and Pakistan, who entered India on or before December 31, 2014. It was passed by the Lok Sabha on Monday.

The debate saw fiery exchanges, with  Opposition members accusing the government of violating the provisions of the Constitution. The Opposition also added that the legislation could be challenged on legal grounds. Several members also flagged the violent protests against the Bill in Assam and Tripura.

Replying to the debate, Union Home Minister Amit Shah said, "The Bill has no provision to snatch citizenship from anyone but to grant citizenship to the refugees. There is no need for Indian Muslims to live in fear. India has given respect to its Muslim population. This Bill does not discriminate against them. India will never be free of Muslims."

(With 200 million out of its 1.39 billion citizens practicing Islam, India boasts of being the world’s third largest "Muslim" country in the world after Indonesia and Pakistan).

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