The Puducherry Legislative Assembly on Wednesday passed a resolution against the Citizenship Amendment Act, and urged the Centre to withdraw the legislation that has triggered nationwide protests since the middle of December, The Indian Express reported. The Congress is in power in Puducherry.
With this, Puducherry became the first Union Territory to pass such a resolution. Till now, four states – Kerala, Punjab, West Bengal and Rajasthan – have passed similar resolutions, while the Madhya Pradesh Cabinet has approved one. Last week, the Greater Hyderabad Municipal Corporation became the first city council to pass a resolution against the amended law.
The Puducherry Assembly approved the statement during a special one-day session that was boycotted by MLAs from All India NR Congress and the All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam, India Today reported. The legislators had presented a petition to Speaker VP Sivakolunthu on February 6, requesting him not to permit any discussion on the resolution “as it exceeds the powers of the legislative Assembly under Government of Union Territories Act 1963”.
Governor Kiran Bedi wrote a letter to Chief Minister V Narayanasamy on February 10, saying the Citizenship Amendment Act was applicable to the Union Territory and “cannot be questioned or deliberated in any manner”.
The amended law 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 people, including 19 in Uttar Pradesh alone, died in December during clashes between the police and those protesting against the Act.
The government is also planning an all-India National Register of Citizens exercise to identify undocumented immigrants. One such exercise, carried out in Assam last year, excluded 19 lakh people. The government’s critics fear that the new citizenship law and the NRC will be misused to target Muslims since the Citizenship Act now has religion as a criterion.