Over 300 people gathered at Sena Bhavan in Dadar to protest against the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill, 2019, which is expected to be introduced in the Lok Sabha next week.
The Bill offers citizenship to Hindus, Jains, Christians, Sikhs, Buddhists and Parsis from Bangladesh, Pakistan and Afghanistan after seven years of residence in India instead of 12, even if they do not possess documents.
The protesters claimed the Narendra Modi government is working against the Constitution by discriminating against Muslim immigrants from the three countries. The protesters, who gathered together on Dr. B.R. Ambedkar’s death anniversary, said the government has forgotten the architect of the Constitution, which declares India as a secular state.
“The Bill hinges on the assumption that the applicants have been oppressed in their home country. How will the government determine if the applicant has in fact been persecuted for practising a certain religion in their home country? The answer to this question is not yet clear,” said Yaghuvir Khadke, a Mahim resident.
Another participant, Chitra Naik said, “None of the three nations admit that they support religious persecution. Myanmar has never acknowledged supporting those who persecute the Rohingyas.”
The protesters demanded answers to some crucial questions related to the Bill. “Bangladesh has a Hindu population of around 1.5 crore. What will the government do if they come to India for better economic or job opportunities and claim they were persecuted because of their religion?” said Rashmi Mayka.
Mr. Khadke said not just the people, parliamentarians too were raising questions on the Bill. “The Bill’s future lies in the answers to these questions. It is a crucial step for the nation as it not only grants citizenship to non-Muslims from the three countries, but also takes away a person’s status as an Overseas Citizen of India,” Mr. Khadke said.