An Indian woman walks out of a polling station after casting her vote during India's general electionin in Khatauli, April 11, 2019. Picture: MONEY SHARMA / AFP
An Indian woman walks out of a polling station after casting her vote during India's general electionin in Khatauli, April 11, 2019. Picture: MONEY SHARMA / AFP

Your editorial suffered from a perceptual barrier when it comes to understanding the intent of India’s Citizenship Amendment Act (“Trump, Modi use state visit for own political ends”, February 28). This is not a new citizenship policy. The act does not mean Muslims from Pakistan, Bangladesh or Afghanistan can never get Indian citizenship. The present legal process of acquiring Indian citizenship by any foreigner through naturalisation or registration stays operational.

Hundreds of Muslims migrating from these three countries have been granted Indian citizenship during the past five years. If found eligible, all such future migrants will also get Indian citizenship, irrespective of their numbers or religion. In 2014, after the settlement of Indo-Bangladesh boundary issues, 14,864 Bangladeshi citizens were given Indian citizenship when their enclaves were incorporated into India. Thousands of these foreigners were Muslims.

All Indian citizens, including Muslims, enjoy the fundamental rights guaranteed by the Indian constitution. The amendment act is not meant to deprive any Indian citizen of their citizenship. It is a special law to enable Hindu, Sikh, Jain, Buddhist, Parsee and Christian foreigners who have migrated from Pakistan, Bangladesh and Afghanistan into India up to the end of 2014 to get Indian citizenship on account of religious persecution.

The issue is being politicised by opposition parties in India, who have exploited the minorities through divisive vote bank politics. India is a sovereign nation and has the world’s largest democratic parliament and the amendments have gone through the lower and upper houses. Why should anyone doubt this democratic process and make it appear as an Islamophobia issue? Please see the problem in the broader context and the management of persecuted minorities and refugee regulations of any country in the world.

Pradeep Ramlall
Via e-mail

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