Calling the Citizenship Amendment Bill, 2019, as "divisive, discriminatory and unconstitutional", more than 600 prominent persons including writers, artistes, filmmakers and retired bureaucrats have asked the Narendra Modi government to withdraw the Bill which seeks to give citizenship to non-Muslims from Pakistan, Bangladesh and Afghanistan.
Asserting that India's Constitution "insists on the fundamentals of equality, regardless of gender, caste, religion, class, community or language", the signatories said the Bill "will, along with a nationwide NRC, bring untold suffering” to people across the country and will damage “fundamentally and irreparably, the nature of the Indian republic".
"This is why we, and all citizens of conscience, demand that the government withdraw the Bill,” a statement signed by the likes of Romila Thapar, Prabhat Patnaik, Ramachandra Guha, Nayantara Sahgal, Arundhati Roy, Amitav Ghosh, T.M. Krishna, Sudhir Patwardhan, Nilima Sheikh, Aparna Sen, Nandita Das, and Anand Patwardhan, among others.
Some of the other signatories to the statement include Justice (Retd) AP Shah, Wajahat Habibullah, Yogendra Yadav, Harsh Mander, Aruna Roy, Teesta Setalvad, Bezwada Wilson, G.N. Devy and Nandini Sundar.
The CAB, introduced by Home Minister Amit Shah, was cleared by the Lok Sabha around midnight on Monday after a 12-hour heated debate as Opposition parties slammed the proposed legislation for being discriminatory on religious grounds and against the basic structure of India’s Constitution.
The Bill proposes to grant Indian citizenship to non-Muslims who came to India from Bangladesh, Pakistan and Afghanistan before January 1, 2015.