The Madhya Pradesh Cabinet on Wednesday passed a resolution against the Citizenship Amendment Act and called for its abrogation, PTI reported. If the resolution is passed by the state Assembly as well, Madhya Pradesh will become the fifth state to do so after Kerala, Punjab, West Bengal, and Rajasthan.
The amendments to the Citizenship Act were cleared by Parliament last month and notified on January 10. They have been strongly opposed by states ruled by parties not part of the National Democratic Alliance.
Congress-ruled Madhya Pradesh’s resolution said that the new citizenship law violated the Constitution’s secular character. “Secularism is the basic foundation of the Indian Constitution and which can’t be changed,” the resolution said. “It is clearly mentioned in the Constitution that India is a secular country. Besides, Article 14 of the Constitution grants equality to all citizens of the country under the law.”
The Act differentiates between undocumented migrants on religious grounds, the resolution said. It said that this was the first time since the Constitution was adopted that a law has been passed that would divide people on the basis of religion. “This will endanger the secular and tolerant nature of the country,” the resolution said, according to The Indian Express.
The citizenship law had triggered suspicion among people, and nationwide protests have been held against it, the resolution said, adding that the state has witnessed “peaceful protests”. The resolution also urged the Centre to update the National Population Register only after new controversial questions in its form were dropped.
While Left-ruled Kerala passed its resolution in the Assembly in December, Congress-ruled Punjab and Rajasthan approved theirs in January. PC Sharma, the public relations minister in Madhya Pradesh government, expressed confidence that his state Assembly would also pass the resolution.
The Citizenship Amendment Act provides citizenship to refugees from six minority religious communities from Bangladesh, Afghanistan and Pakistan, provided they have lived in India for six years and entered the country by December 31, 2014. The Act has been widely criticised for excluding Muslims, leading to protests against it. At least 27 persons, including 19 people in Uttar Pradesh alone, died during clashes between the police and those protesting against the Act last month.
The National Register of Citizens is a proposed nationwide exercise to identify undocumented immigrants. One such exercise, carried out in Assam last year, resulted in the exclusion of 19 lakh people. As first reported by Scroll.in, the National Population Register is the first step to creating NRC. While the Narendra Modi administration has claimed that the new citizenship law will not take away anyone’s citizenship, the government’s critics fear that the amended law and the National Register of Citizens will be misused to target Muslims since the Citizenship Act now has religion as a criterion.