The global media is largely viewing the bill as part of Prime Minister Narendra Modi-led BJP government’s attempt to push a Hindu nationalist agenda.
The Citizenship Amendment Bill,2019 will be introduced in the Rajya Sabha on Wednesday, with the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) saying it was confident that it will be passed in the upper house. The bill, piloted by Union Home Minister Amit Shah, was comfortably passed in the Lok Sabha on late Monday night as the ruling BJP enjoys a clear majority in the house.
The Citizenship (Amendment) Bill, 2019, seeks to grant Indian citizenship to non-Muslim refugees from Pakistan, Bangladesh and Afghanistan if they faced religious persecution there. They will be given Indian citizenship after residing in the country for five years, instead of 11 years which is the current norm.
The Bill’s nature and provisions along with protests from the Opposition and other outfits has received the attention of the international media. The global media is largely viewing the bill as part of Prime Minister Narendra Modi-led BJP government’s attempt to push a Hindu nationalist agenda.
Writing in The New York Times, Jeffrey Gettleman and Suhasini Raj described it as “deeply unsettling for Indian Muslims” and “the most significant move yet to profoundly alter India’s secular nature enshrined by its founding leaders when the country gained independence in 1947.”
Calling it as a BJP attempt to make India’s Muslims as second-class citizens, they wrote, “Muslim Indians are deeply unsettled. They see the new measure, called the Citizenship Amendment Bill, as the first step by the governing party to make second-class citizens of India’s 200 million Muslims, one of the largest Muslim populations in the world, and render many of them stateless.”
The Washington Post’s Global Opinions columnist Barkha Dutt wrote," Of late, many within India — and many more outside of it — have likened the country to a “Hindu Pakistan.” This description used to sound like a lazy cliche from the grammar book of Orientalism. Despite domestic developments that have triggered robust criticism at home, I believed this was essentially a caricatured way of looking at India without recognizing it as a complex and diverse country, where many contradictory truths can exist simultaneously. But today, for the first time, I must admit: India just officially cast itself in Pakistan’s image."
Quoting critics, BBC questioned that “if it is genuinely aimed at protecting minorities, the bill should have included Muslim religious minorities who have faced persecution in their own countries - Ahmadis in Pakistan and Rohingyas in Myanmar, for example. (The government has gone to the Supreme Court seeking deportation of Rohingya refugees from India.)”
British newspaper The Guardian sees the Bill as the latest attempt in a series of recent measures by the Modi administration to reinforce India’s Hindu identity.
“In August his (Modi) administration rescinded the partial autonomy of Jammu and Kashmir, India’s only Muslim-majority state, and split it into two. The government has defended the bill, saying it was aimed at flushing out infiltrators, and that Muslims did not face persecution in the three neighbouring countries.”
The Time magazine wrote, “The BJP came to power under Modi in 2014, but won a landslide reelection in May with an increased majority. Since then, the government has embarked on increasingly bold moves to reshape India according to its ideology, sidelining Muslims in the process. The Citizenship Amendment Bill is Modi’s biggest effort yet to change the religious and social makeup of India in line with Hindu nationalist beliefs.”
A report on Al Jazeera termed the move as “part of a Hindu supremacist agenda pushed by the government of Prime Minister Narendra Modi since it came to power nearly six years ago.”
Earlier in January this year, Al Jazeera’s op-ed writer Apoorvanand wrote in that "The citizenship bill needs to be seen as a part of the BJP's larger ideological and political agenda to transform India into a "Hindu homeland". The governing party believes India belongs to Hindus and everyone else are invaders, or at best latecomers, who should expect nothing more than a guest status."