Modi cabinet clears ‘anti-Muslim’ Citizenship Bill

The Union Cabinet on Wednesday approved the Citizenship Amendment Bill, which is now expected to be tabled in Parliament next week.

“It has been given clearance and will be discussed once it is tabled in Parliament,” Union minister Prakash Javadekar said in the Cabinet briefing.

The ruling Bharatiya Janata Party has been strongly advocating a nationwide National Register of Citizens (NRC) exercise before the 2024 Lok Sabha polls. The Opposition has staunchly opposed both the Bill and the country-wide NRC.

The Bill aims to provide citizenship to those who had been forced to seek shelter in India because of religious persecution or fear of persecution in their home countries, primarily Hindus, Sikhs, Jains, Buddhists, Parsis and Christians from Afghanistan, Pakistan and Bangladesh.

This is a drastic shift from the provisions of the Citizenship Act of 1955 that labels a person an “illegal immigrant” if he or she has entered India without travel documents or has overstayed the date specified in the documents.

The opposition raised objections against the bill, which exclude Muslims and other minorities.