17:26 GMT +321 January 2020
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    New Delhi (Sputnik): Lok Sabha, India’s lower house of Parliament ratified a controversial Citizenship Amendment Bill that seeks to grant citizenship to illegal immigrants from Afghanistan, Bangladesh and Pakistan, who are Hindus, Sikhs, Buddhists, Jains, Parsis and Christians, but not Muslims.

    The draft bill will now go to Rajya Sabha, the upper house of the Indian Parliament for ratification, before the president issues a decree to make it into a law. Several opposition parties, civil rights activists, and people from the Muslim community fear the proposed legislation is discriminatory as it would dent India’s image of religious pluralism.

    In the northeastern region, which has been a hotbed of illegal immigration from Bangladesh, protests continued on Tuesday. A large number of people came out and sat on roads to protest the proposed legislation.

    ​Harsh Mander, a leading rights activist, announced the launch of a civil disobedience movement against the proposed legislation, if made into a law. Mander is a well-known critic of the current nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party-led federal government.

    Proponents of the legislation came down heavily on Mander and even suggested he should move to Pakistan.

    ​The proposed legislation also made waves beyond India's borders, with the US House Foreign Committee saying that “Any religious test for citizenship undermines this most basic democratic tenet”.

    ​The draft Bill says that “persons belonging to minority communities, namely, Hindus, Sikhs, Buddhists, Jains, Parsis and Christians from Afghanistan, Bangladesh, and Pakistan….shall not be treated as illegal migrants for the purpose of the Act".

    Federal Home Minister of India Amit Shah, who piloted the Bill, said the legislation does not target any minority community, “but illegal immigrants would not be allowed to stay in the country at any cost”.



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