Protests erupt as India pushes for religion-based citizenship bill

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Home Minister Amit Shah had minced no words while campaigning for the Lok Sabha polls in West Bengal that his government will provide pass laws to grant Indian citizenship to all non-Muslim refugees living in India. "While we support this laudable objective, we find it deeply troubling that the Bill uses religion as a legal criterion for determining Indian citizenship", reads the statement.

It will allow them to acquire Indian citizenship if they live or work in the country for six years and are fleeing religious persecution.

The Bill violates the Fundamental Right to Equality prescribed by Article 14 since it infringes upon the principle of "equality before the law" and the "equal protection of laws" guaranteed to all persons, including non-citizens, Tharoor said in his notice. These religious groups are Hindus, Christians, Sikhs, Jains, Buddhists and Parsis.

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The Bill, which had lapsed in the previous term of the parliament, has already evoked angry reactions from people in the North-East states, where several protests are planned for today. Shops, businesses, educational and financial institutions remained shut and public transport stayed off the roads.

Why it was introduced: The bill was first introduced in 2016, fulfilling a 2014 parliamentary election promise of Prime Minister Narendra Modi's right-wing ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP). Thus, it is unclear how a bill could be enacted that excludes Muslims from the country's offer of refuge.

"Please save this country from this law and save the home minister", Asaduddin Owaisi, an opposition MP from the All India Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen party, told parliament.

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