India: No citizenship on the basis of religion

06 January 2020 00:28


At the recent Council of Global Unions meeting that was held in 17-18 December in London, the global trade union denounced the  Indian government ‘s response to the series of protests throughout the country against the recently passed citizenship law.  

The Indian Parliament amidst strong opposition passed Citizenship Amendment Bill (CAB) 2019 on 11 December 2019 - amending citizenship legislation dating back to 1955. The new Act paves way for Indian citizenship for religious minorities (Hindu, Sikh, Buddhist, Jain and Parsi) from the neighbouring Muslim majority countries of Pakistan, Bangladesh and Afghanistan.

This amendment is being widely criticized as it is discriminatory on the basis of religion. While a move has been made to protect minorities but doing so on basis of religion is a cause of serious concern and is against the Constitutional principle of secularism.

Passage of this legislation has resulted in mass protests including students in large numbers who have took to the streets across the country. Over 1,200 arrests and six deaths have been recorded with suspension of civil liberties and communication facilities in numerous parts of the country.  

It is estimated that once this law is notified by the Parliament, the legislation along with the National Register of Citizens (NRC) shall render around 1.9 Muslim immigrants stateless. The law also excludes minorities from other non-Muslim countries in the region – Sri Lanka, Myanmar and Tibet.

According to the CGU statement that was approved by the members,

"The CAB offers amnesty to non-Muslim illegal immigrants from three neighbouring countries - Pakistan, Bangladesh and Afghanistan. We understand the government says the CAB gives sanctuary to people fleeing religious persecution. However, to the outside world it appears part of an agenda to marginalise Muslims.

For workers, these violations are occurring in the wake of an alarming series of attacks on labour rights and trade unions in India. The Modi government recently reduced the number of labour codes from forty-four to just four. Acting in bad faith, the government published the proposed industrial relations labour code on its website without any formal consultation amongst the trade unions. Under the new code, trade unions would need to represent 75% of the workforce to be recognised as representing a workplace. As a result, all Indian trade union centres have decided to go on general strike on 8 January 2020.”

The BWI along with the global unions will coordinate a series of actions to support the General Strike.