By Shuriah Niazi
NEW DELHI (AA) - The Social Democratic Party of India (SDPI) staged a protest Thursday in New Delhi against the Indian cabinet’s passage of a controversial bill that excludes Muslims from being accepted as refugees and denies them citizenship.
Under the Citizenship Amendment Bill (CAB) approved Wednesday, citizenship would be granted to Hindus, Buddhists, Sikhs, Jains, Parsis and others who have fled from religious persecution in mainly Pakistan, Bangladesh and Afghanistan provided they can prove who they are and show evidence that they have resided in India for six years. But Muslims in the same position would be deported or jailed.
The legislation is expected to be introduced in parliament in the coming days.
Many Indian opposition political parties have opposed the bill, claiming that citizenship cannot be given on the basis of religion.
“Through this bill, the government wants to treat Muslims as second-class citizens in the country,” SDPI national general secretary Tasleem Rehmani said during the protest.
“In a democratic country like India, citizenship cannot be given on the basis of religion.”
The SDPI said earlier in a statement that the bill is “a clear signal to Muslims residing in West Bengal to be prepared to be dumped into detention camps. On what basis are we making such categories of refugees? This is clearly unconstitutional.”
Rehmani also said the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) has failed to do anything for the country.
“They have failed on almost all fronts, and in order to hide their failure, they are taking such decisions, which are against democratic values.”
The opposition Congress party, All India Trinamool Congress, Community Party of India (Marxist) and some other political parties opposed the bill.
The Congress party has threatened to go to the Supreme Court against the legislation. The bill is also being protested against in northeastern states.