Protests flare as India passes controversial citizenship law

Credit: Reuters Studio
Published on December 11, 2019 - Duration: 01:05s

Protests flare as India passes controversial citizenship law

India's ruling Hindu nationalist government on Wednesday won parliamentary approval for a far-reaching citizenship law that critics say undermines the country's secular constitution, as protests against the legislation intensified.

Tamara Lindstrom reports.

Protests flare as India passes controversial citizenship law

Demonstrations turned violent Wednesday as India's ruling Hindu nationalist government won parliamentary approval on a controversial new citizenship law.

The Citizenship Amendment Bill would grant Indian nationality to Buddhists, Christians, Hindus, Jains, Parsis and Sikhs who fled Afghanistan, Bangladesh and Pakistan before 2015 - but not Muslims.

The bill passed 125 to 105.

The move by Prime Minister Narendra Modi's government faced stiff resistance from opposition parties, minority groups and students who say the legislation undermines the country's secular constitution.

Muslim politicians have argued the bill targets their community of more than 170 million people - India's largest minority group.

The government said the new law will be followed by a citizenship register that requires Muslims to prove they were original residents of India and not refugees from these three countries, potentially rendering some of them stateless.

A curfew has been imposed after police clashed with thousands of protesters, beating them back using water cannons and tear gas.

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