The Citizenship Amendment Bill that was recently passed by the Lok Sabha seeks to grant citizenship to refugees from the Hindu, Christian, Buddhist, Sikh, Jain and Zoroastrian communities fleeing religious persecution from Pakistan, Bangladesh and Afghanistan.
The bill that was passed by an overwhelming majority in the Lower House faced stiff opposition from several quarters of society, and here's why.
1. Civil rights activists across the country are opposing the bill on the grounds that it discriminates against Muslims. They say that such discrimination is unconstitutional under Article 14.
2. The bill is being seen as an attempt to legalise the citizenship of illegal Hindu immigrants, leaving behind Muslims.
3. Migrants who identify themselves with any group or community other than Hindu, Christian, Buddhist, Sikh, Jain and Zoroastrian communities from Bangladesh, Pakistan and Afghanistan, won't be eligible for citizenship.
4. The Assamese fear that if Bangla-speaking illegal immigrants are granted citizenship, these immigrants may outnumber the locals, threatening their cultural hegemony.
5. Use of religion as a criterion for citizenship violates the very basis of the Indian Constitution.
6. The bill doesn't mention anything about the Muslim population coming from these 3 countries. Those opposing it say that it deliberately excludes Muslims.
7. The proposed law also relaxes the provisions for 'citizenship by naturalisation'. The applicants from these 5 communities and 3 countries will now need to reside for just six years to obtain Indian citizenship.
If passed by Rajya Sabha, the new bill will come into effect and change the landscape of Indian population to a great extent.