Scientists, scholars call to scrap Citizenship Bill

1,000 signatories express concern

December 10, 2019 04:42 am | Updated 07:45 am IST - NEW DELHI

This is the brain power of India, not ‘anti-nationals’, Ramachandra Guha says. File photo: V.Sreenivasa Murthy

This is the brain power of India, not ‘anti-nationals’, Ramachandra Guha says. File photo: V.Sreenivasa Murthy

About a 1000 scientists and research scholars from some of India’s premier research organisations have signed a petition demanding that the Citizenship Amendment Bill, 2019 (CAB) be withdrawn in its current form.

“We are issuing this statement in our personal capacity as concerned citizens to express our dismay at the reported plans to table the Citizenship Amendment Bill, 2019, in the Parliament,” says the petition.

The CAB was tabled in Lok Sabha on Monday and seeks to grant citizenship to Hindus, Sikhs, Buddhists, Jains, Parsis and Christians from Afghanistan, Bangladesh and Pakistan.

While the petition welcomes the CAB’s “objective” to provide refuge to persecuted minorities from neighbouring countries, it objects to the Bill’s use of religion as a legal criterion for determining Indian citizenship.

Noted scholar Ramachandra Guha tweeted, “Some signatories are world-renowned scientists, others brilliant Ph D students. They work in our top institutes. This is the brain power of India; not alleged ‘anti-nationals’.”

The petitioners are affiliated to the Indian Institutes of Technology, the Indian Institutes of Science Education and Research, Indian Institute of Science, Delhi University, Chennai Mathematical Institute, International Centre for Theoretical Science, Tata Institute for Fundamental Research. Some of the signatories were also affiliated to international institutes such as the University of Bonn, The Hebrew University of Jerusalem and the University of Oslo.

“We do not have access to the exact text of the current version of the Bill. Our statement is based on media reports and the text of the previous version of the Bill that was passed by Lok Sabha in January 2019. The idea of India that emerged from the independence movement, and as enshrined in our Constitution, is that of a country that aspires to treat people of all faiths equally. The use of religion as a criterion for citizenship in the proposed bill would mark a radical break with this history and would be inconsistent with the basic structure of the constitution. We fear, in particular, that the careful exclusion of Muslims from the ambit of the Bill will greatly strain the pluralistic fabric of the country,” the petition notes.

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