India parliament passes religion-based citizenship bill amid protests

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International desk, December 10: India’s parliament has passed a bill that seeks to grant citizenship to religious minorities persecuted in neighbouring Muslim countries.The Citizenship Amendment Bill (CAB) was cleared by the Lok Sabha after nearly 12 hours of heated debate on Monday, with 311 voting in support and 80 against, reports NDTV.

The proposed law offers amnesty to non-Muslims – Hindus, Buddhists, Jains, Christians, Sikhs and Parsis – who came to India from Bangladesh, Pakistan and Afghanistan before 2015.

Hundreds of protesters took to the streets in India as Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government placed the controversial bill in parliament.

Home Minister Amit Shah introduced the CAB in India’s lower house amid raucous debate. Opposition parties stood against the proposed law that would, for the first time, create a legal pathway to grant Indian nationality on the basis of religion.

The bill was originally introduced in 2016 during the Modi government’s first term but lapsed after protests and an alliance partner’s withdrawal.Oppositions politicians inside parliament, and protesters in several Indian cities, said the bill discriminated against Muslims and violated India’s secular constitution.

Shah and Modi’s ruling Bharatiya Janata Party, which had included the CAB as part of its manifesto in the last general election, insist that it is necessary.

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