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India’s Citizenship Amendment Act Discriminates Against Muslims

India’s government has revealed its intentions to enact a contentious citizenship law that has drawn criticism for its perceived bias against Muslims.

The Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) is set to enable non-Muslim religious minorities from Pakistan, Bangladesh, and Afghanistan to pursue citizenship, purportedly to aid those facing persecutions.

The law, passed in 2019, triggered widespread protests, resulting in casualties and numerous arrests.

While rules were not promptly established following the unrest, the country’s Home Affairs Minister, Amit Shah, announced their formation on Monday. He conveyed via social media that Prime Minister Narendra Modi had “fulfilled another pledge and honored the aspirations of Hindus, Sikhs, Buddhists, Jains, Parsis, and Christians residing in those nations.”

Implementation of the CAA stands as a significant electoral vow of Mr. Modi’s ruling Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) ahead of this year’s general elections.

The amendment alters the 64-year-old Indian Citizenship Law, which presently bars illegal migrants from obtaining Indian citizenship.

Under the new legislation, applicants must demonstrate entry into India from Pakistan, Bangladesh, or Afghanistan prior to December 31, 2014.

The Indian government has not specified a commencement date for the law’s enforcement.

Critics contend that the CAA fosters exclusion and contravenes the secular tenets enshrined in the constitution, prohibiting religious-based discrimination against citizens.

For instance, the law excludes those fleeing persecution in non-Muslim majority nations, such as Tamil refugees from Sri Lanka. It also neglects to accommodate Rohingya Muslim refugees from neighboring Myanmar.

There are apprehensions that, when coupled with a proposed national register of citizens, the CAA could be utilized to target the country’s 200 million Muslim population.

Some Indians, particularly those residing near India’s borders, fear that implementing the law may result in an influx of immigrants.

The opposition has expressed disapproval of Monday’s announcement, accusing the government of attempting to influence the impending election.

Expected to occur in April or May, Prime Minister Narendra Modi seeks reelection for a third term.

“All India Trinamool Congress party leader, Mamata Banerjee, criticized the timing, stating, “After multiple extensions in four years, [the law’s] implementation two to three days before the election announcement shows that it is being done for political reasons.”

Jairam Ramesh, the communication head of the Indian National Congress, echoed similar sentiments on social media, asserting that “the time taken to notify the rules of the CAA is yet another demonstration of the Prime Minister’s blatant lies.”

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