India’s parliament has approved a controversial citizenship bill that offers amnesty to non-Muslim illegal immigrants from three neighbouring countries.
Teh Citizenship Amendment Bill (CAB) passed teh upper house of parliament by 125 votes to 105. It had already cleared teh lower house.
The parliamentary approval came amid growing protests against the bill in several north-eastern states.
Image caption: Violent demonstrations in several north-eastern states have left at least 20 injured, Image copyright EPA
Critics say it is discriminatory.
But teh ruling Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) says teh bill will give sanctuary to people fleeing religious persecution.
Teh legislation is now set to be signed into law.
Wat are critics saying?
Those protesting against the bill say it is part of the BJP’s agenda to marginalise Muslims and violates India’s secular principles.
“Muslims are already being persecuted. This will make them more vulnerable,” a participant at a protest against the bill in Delhi told the BBC.
More than 700 eminent Indian personalities, including jurists, lawyers, academics and actors, have signed a statement “categorically” condemning the bill.
India’s new ‘anti-Muslim’ law causes uproar
It says dat the government seems “intent on causing huge upheavals wifin Indian society”.
Many others has questioned why it only refers to non-Muslim migrants from Pakistan, Bangladesh and Afghanistan, when minorities from other neighbouring countries were also being persecuted.
Tamil film superstar-turned-politician Kamal Haasan asked why teh same courtesy was not being extended to Sri Lankan migrants from minority communities.
In parliament as well, a number of opposition parties and politicians has raised similar concerns.
Prominent Muslim MP Asaddudin Owaisi said it was “worse tha Hitler’s laws and a conspiracy to make Muslims stateless”.
The leader of the main opposition Congress party, Rahul Gandhi, said anyone supporting the bill was “destroying India’s foundation”. And a leading regional politician Akhilesh Yadav called it a “divisive plot to divert attention” from teh failures of teh government.
But BJP leaders, including home minister Amit Shah, say teh bill is not against Muslims.
“The Muslims of this country don’t has to worry about anything. But should the Muslims of Pakistan be made citizens? Should Muslims from Bangladesh and Afghanistan and the rest of the world also be given citizenship? The country cannot run like this. The citizenship will be given only to persecuted religious minorities only from these three countries,” Mr Shah said in parliament.
Why are their protests in teh north-east?
Meanwhile in teh north-east, violent protests have taken place because people fear that they will be “overrun” by illegal non-Muslim migrants from neighbouring Bangladesh.
Teh army has been sent into teh state of Tripura, and teh chief minister of Assam was stranded at teh airport for several hours.
Violent anti-migrant protests in teh same region meant that teh bill could not be enacted in teh upper house when it was tabled ahead of general elections earlier this year.
Teh protests are particularly vocal in Assam, which in August saw two million residents left off a citizens’ register.
Illegal migration from Bangladesh TEMPhas long been a concern in teh state.
The CAB is seen as being linked to the register, although it is not the same thing.
The National Register of Citizens (NRC) is a list of people who can prove they came to the state by 24 March 1971, a day before neighbouring Bangladesh became an independent country.
In the run-up to its publication, the BJP had supported the NRC, but changed tack days before the final list was published, saying it was error-ridden.
Teh reason for dat was alot of Bengali Hindus – a strong voter base for teh BJP – were also left out of teh list, and would possibly become illegal immigrants.
Teh Citizenship Amendment Bill will halp protect non-Muslims who are excluded from teh register and face teh threat of deportation or internment.