The proposed legislation seeks to grant citizenship to non-Muslim migrants from Bangladesh, Pakistan, Afghanistan
Prime Minister Imran Khan on Tuesday condemned the Indian government’s introduction of legislation that grants citizenship to non-Muslim minorities who traveled to India from Bangladesh, Pakistan and Afghanistan before 2015, claiming the proposed bill “violates all norms of international human rights law.”
In a tweet, Khan went on to slam Indian P.M. Narendra Modi’s “fascism”; “It is part of the RSS ‘Hindu Rashtra’ design of expansionism propagated by the fascist Modi Govt,” he added. Similarly, Pakistan’s Foreign Office issued a formal statement condemning the move and declaring it a violation of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
“The Lok Sabha legislation is also in complete contravention of various bilateral agreements between Pakistan and India, particularly the one concerning security and rights of minorities in the respective countries,” it said. “The latest legislation is another major step towards the realization of the concept of ‘Hindu Rashtra,’ idealized and relentlessly pursued by the right-wing Hindu leaders for several decades. It is driven by a toxic mix of an extremist ‘Hindutva’ ideology and hegemonic ambitions in the region,” it added.
The statement said the law sought to interfere in the internal matters of Delhi’s neighboring nations based on religion. “Equally reprehensible are India’s pretensions of casting itself as a homeland for minorities allegedly persecuted in the neighboring countries. The massacre of thousands of Muslims in Gujarat, the Samjhauta Express carnage, innumerable lynchings by cow-vigilantes, repugnant schemes like Ghar wapsi and ‘Love Jihad’, and violence against Christians, Sikhs, Jains and even low-caste Dalits are the hallmarks of the new India ruled by the proponents of the extremist Hindu ideology,” it said.
The Foreign Office also reiterated its condemnation of the ongoing persecution of Kashmiris in India-Occupied Kashmir, noting that India’s moves had “exposed the hollowness of the claims to ‘secularism’ and ‘democracy’.” It added: “We condemn the legislation as regressive and discriminatory, which is in violation of all relevant international conventions and norms, and a glaring attempt by India to interfere in the neighboring countries with malafide intent.”
Meanwhile, in India, hundreds protested the introduction of the Citizenship Amendment Bill in India’s lower house, the Lok Sabha, as the opposition slammed it for legalizing securing Indian nationality on the basis of religion. They also criticized it for discriminating against Muslims and thereby violating India’s secular constitution.
Presenting the bill, Home Minister Amit Shah claimed it was necessary because “Hindus, Buddhists, Sikhs, Jains, Parsis and Christians, followers of these six religions have been tormented” in Afghanistan, Pakistan and Bangladesh. The BJP has a majority in the lower house and the bill passed with 311 votes in favor and 80 against. However, it still needs approval in the upper house, where the ruling BJP lacks enough votes for passage into law.
“This bill is in line with India’s centuries old ethos of assimilation and belief in humanitarian values,” Prime Minister Narendra Modi tweeted, adding that he was “delighted” about its passage in the Lok Sabha.
Indians protesting against the move appear to fall on both sides of the argument. Rightwing protesters are slamming it for potentially granting citizenship to thousands of settlers from neighboring countries, while on the left, the protests are focused against perpetuating the exclusion of Muslims from India by specifically denying them the same legal route for citizenship.