What is Citizen Amendment Bill and why people are opposing it?

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Citizen Amendment Bill is an amendment to the Indian citizenship law, a 64-year-old piece of legislation that prohibits illegal migrants from becoming citizens in India. Under the old law, anyone considered an illegal immigrant in India could be deported or put in jail.

The former law also incorporated provisions that state a person must live in India or work for the federal government for at least 11 years before they are eligible to apply for citizenship.

However, CAB was signed into law. The new bill promotes citizenship for six religious minorities — Hindus, Sikhs, Buddhists, Jains, Parsis and Christians — from the neighbouring countries of Afghanistan, Bangladesh and Pakistan, if the individuals arrived before 2015.

The bill, however, has got a harsh reaction and is the catalyst for the continuing protests. Opponents allege the bill is biased and exclusionary, as it does not extend the same rights to Muslim migrants. On the other hand, Critics say the CAB attacks India’s secular constitution, which prevents religious discrimination and says all people are equal before the law and entitled to equal protection under the law.

People in the northeastern state of Assam resided along the Bangladeshi border, have also displayed anxiety that migrants who came to the nation illegally will move to the area and weaken the culture and political sway of Indigenous tribal people.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi has refused that the bill has any religious preference and say the new law is intended to help minority groups facing persecution in the three nearby Muslim countries.