By Ahmad Adil
CHANDIGARH, India (AA) - The chief ministers of three Indian states have spoken out against the controversial citizenship law which has triggered mass protests in the country's northeast.
After it was passed in the parliament, Indian President Ram Nath Kovind on Thursday signed the bill making it a law. It grants citizenship to six minorities from Afghanistan, Pakistan and Bangladesh -- all Muslim-majority nations in South Asia -- who have stayed in India for more than five years.
Muslims are conspicuously absent from the qualifying list for citizenship, raising fears that this will be yet another blow to the minority group which, during this government led by the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), has faced mob attacks by Hindu vigilantes.
Amarinder Singh, chief minister of the northern Punjab state, refused to implement the bill.
"Any legislation that seeks to divide people on religious lines is illegal, unethical and unconstitutional. India's strength lies in its diversity and #CABBill2019 violates the basic principle of the constitution. Hence my govt will not allow the bill to be implemented in Punjab," he said in a tweet.
Pinarayi Vijayan, chief minister of the southern state of Kerala, said the move to decide citizenship on the basis of religion amounts to a rejection of the constitution.
"The Citizenship Amendment Bill is an attack on the secular and democratic character of India. The move to decide citizenship on the basis of religion amounts to a rejection of the constitution. It will only take our country backward. Our hard-fought freedom is at stake. Our democracy is in danger [...] BJP has made it clear that their main political plank is communalism. We must resist," he said.
West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee also voiced opposition to the law.
"We are with you, and as long as we are here, nobody can impose anything on you," she said on Monday at a public gathering, broadcaster NDTV reported.