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1000 scientists, scholars: Citizenship bill 'discriminatory', will strain pluralistic fabric

By Our Representative
About 1,000 concerned citizens, mainly scientists and scholars working in prominent institutes, have expressed their “dismay” at the plans to table the Citizenship Amendment Bill 2019 in Parliament, demanding its “immediate withdrawal” as it proposes to address the concerns of refugees and minorities in a discriminatory manner.
In a statement, they have said, “We understand that the Bill seeks to grant citizenship to Hindus, Sikhs, Buddhists, Jains, Parsis and Christians from Afghanistan, Bangladesh and Pakistan”, adding, “The stated intent of the Bill is to provide refuge to persecuted minorities from neighbouring countries. While we support this laudable objective, we find it deeply troubling that the Bill uses religion as a legal criterion for determining Indian citizenship”.
According to their statement, which is based on reports appearing in the media, “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.”
They say, “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 statement further says, “We note that Article 14 of the Indian Constitution prohibits the state from denying ‘to any person equality before the law or the equal protection of the laws within the territory of India’. While it is the job of legal experts to determine whether this draft Bill violates the letter of the constitution, it seems certain to us that it violates its spirit.”
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Click here for list of signatories

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