The United Nations human rights office voiced concern on Friday that India’s new citizenship law is “fundamentally discriminatory in nature” by excluding Muslims and called for it to be reviewed.
Violent clashes erupted in Delhi between police and thousands of university students on Friday protesting the enactment of the contentious new law.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Hindu nationalist government has said the Citizenship Amendment Bill, approved by parliament on Wednesday, was meant to protect minorities from Bangladesh, Pakistan and Afghanistan.
“We are concerned that India’s new Citizenship (Amendment) Act 2019 is fundamentally discriminatory in nature,” U.N. human rights spokesman Jeremy Laurence told a Geneva news briefing.
The Citizenship (Amendment) Bill which grants Indian citizenship to the non-Muslims of Afghanistan, Pakistan and Bangladesh, was passed by the Rajya Sabha on Wednesday. As many as 125 lawmakers voted in the favour of the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill and 99 against it.
The Bill will confer citizenship to Hindus, Sikhs, Christians, Buddhist, Jains and Parsis — from Afghanistan, Pakistan and Bangladesh who arrived in India before December 31, 2014.
In other words, the CAB paves way for Indian citizenship to lakhs of immigrants, who identify themselves with any of the above-mentioned religions, even if they lacked any document to prove their residency. It simply means that any immigrant who practices Islam would not be eligible for Indian citizenship in the fast track process and will have to take the standard route.