India gripped by protests over citizenship bill

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A controversial citizenship bill passed in the lower house of the Indian Parliament has faced opposition in northeastern states, where protesters closed streets on Tuesday as part of an 11-hour shutdown.

The Citizenship (Amendment) Bill (CAB), introduced by the government led by the Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), seeks to provide citizenship to non-Muslim “persecuted” religious minorities from Bangladesh, Pakistan, and Afghanistan.

It needs to be passed by the upper house of Parliament to become law.

The bill’s passage in the lower house had sparked widespread protests in the northeastern states with a large number of tribal and indigenous citizens.

Home Minister Amit Shah has promised to exempt some northeastern states from the jurisdiction of the bill under the sixth schedule of the constitution and the Inner Line Permit (ILP) concept.

The Citizenship (Amendment) Bill, cleared by the Lok Sabha after a fierce 12-hour debate on Monday, will be tabled in the Rajya Sabha on Wednesday at 3 pm. Sources in the ruling BJP said the party is confident of the bill making it through the upper house.

While the BJP and its allies in the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) enjoy an overwhelming majority in the lower house that helped it get 334 votes in favor of the bill and 106 against in the lower house, the party’s hold on the Rajya Sabha is wobblier.

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