On the 4th of December the Union Cabinet of India signed a controversial amendment to the Indian Citizenship Act which was made law in 1955.
The Act defines the various ways in which Indian citizenship may be obtained. The specific amendment that is causing controversy is to the clause that enables illegal immigrants to apply for citizenship after having lived in India for more than 11 years as long as certain conditions have been met.
The Amendment Bill would allow immigrants from Muslim-majority states, Afghanistan, Bangladesh and Pakistan to apply for citizenship after living in India for 6 years instead of 11.
The controversy lies in the fact that the Bill completely excludes Muslims. The reasoning behind it is that Hindus, Buddhists, Sikhs, Christians, Jains and Parsis flee persecution in Muslim-majority Bangladesh, Pakistan and Afghanistan
The main opposition Congress party’s Shashi Tharoor told the media that he thought the Bill was against everything Mahatma Gandhi had tried to achieve. He says that citizenship should not be linked to religion and that this is “fundamentally unconstitutional”.
The Bill has been met with resistance on social media and for it to become Law, it will need to be ratified by both houses of India’s parliament.