‘Discriminatory’ against Muslims
UN concerned over Indian citizenship law as protests spread across the country
GENEVA, Dec 13: The United Nations human rights office voiced concern on Friday that India's new citizenship law is "fundamentally discriminatory in nature" by excluding Muslims and called for it to be reviewed.
"We are concerned that India's new Citizenship (Amendment) Act 2019 is fundamentally discriminatory in nature," UN human rights spokesman Jeremy Laurence told a Geneva news briefing.
"We understand the new law will be reviewed by the Supreme Court of India and hope it will consider carefully the compatibility of the law with India's international human rights obligations," Laurence said.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi's Hindu nationalist government has said the Citizenship Amendment Bill, approved by parliament on Wednesday, was meant to protect minorities from Bangladesh, Pakistan and Afghanistan.
The new law does not extend the same protection to Muslim migrants as to six other religious minorities fleeing persecution, thereby undermining India's commitment to equality before the law, enshrined in its constitution, he said.
Protesters took to the streets across the states of Assam and Tripura after the government officially approved the Citizenship Amendment Bill (CAB). The new law could give Indian citizenship to immigrants from three neighboring countries -- but not if they are Muslim. Opposition parties say the bill is unconstitutional as it bases citizenship on a person's religion and would further marginalize India's 200 million-strong Muslim community.
Violent clashes erupted in Delhi between police and thousands of university students on Friday over the enactment of a contentious new citizenship law, with the unrest leading Japan's prime minister to cancel a planned visit to India. West Bengal will not allow implementation of the amended Citizenship Act "under any circumstances", Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee reiterated today as she announced a series of rallies across the state to protest the contentious law.
"The Citizenship Act will divide India. As long as we are in power, not a single person in the state will have to leave the country," Banerjee said, accusing the centre of forcing non-BJP states to implement the law.
The violent protest against the newly-enacted citizenship law has now spread to West Bengal. In capital Kolkata, snap demonstration took place at several places, bringing traffic to a standstill. Symbolic copies of the citizenship act were burnt at Park Circus. -REUTERS