India’s upper house of Parliament (Rajya Sabha) passed the controversial Citizenship Amendment Bill (CAB), which will grant citizenship to religious minorities from neighbouring countries, with legal experts saying it violates the country’s secular constitution.
The bill was passed on Wednesday with 125 MPs voting in favour of the bill, while 104 voting against.
The Home Minister Amit Shah tabled the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill in the upper house (Rajya Sabha) of Parliament a day after it was approved in the lower house (Lok Sabha).
The bill, seeks to amend the 1955 citizenship law, aims to give citizenship to “persecuted” minorities – Hindus, Sikhs, Buddhists, Jains, Parsis and Christians – from Bangladesh, Afghanistan and Pakistan, but excludes Muslims.
Now the bill will go to the President’s office for his assent.
Opposition parties say the bill is discriminatory as it singles out Muslims in an officially secular nation of 1.3 billion people. Muslims form nearly 15 percent of the population.
Legal experts argue that it violates Article 14 of the constitution, which guarantees the right to equality.
The US Commission on International Religious Freedom said on Monday that Washington should consider sanctions against Shah, a close associate of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, if India adopts the legislation.
Protests flared in various parts of India especially in the northeastern states.
An indefinite curfew was imposed in the India’s Guwahati and mobile internet services were suspended in 10 districts of the state of Assam for 24 hours after thousands of protested against the Citizenship Amendment Bill (CAB).
Many point out that the bill is a part a Hindu supremacist agenda pushed by the government of Prime Minister Narendra Modi.