Pratap Bhanu Mehta
Pratap Bhanu Mehta

New Delhi: Over 1,000 scientists and scholars have signed a petition demanding that the Citizenship Amendment Bill in its current form be withdrawn, with noted academician Pratap Bhanu Mehta saying the legislation will transform India into an "unconstitutional ethnocracy".

The scientists and academicians said the use of religion as a criterion for citizenship in the proposed bill would mark a radical break and would be inconsistent with the basic structure of the Constitution.

The Lok Sabha passed the bill a little past midnight on Monday after a heated debate that lasted over seven hours. It seeks to provide Indian citizenship to non-Muslim refugees coming from Pakistan, Bangladesh and Afghanistan after facing religious persecution there.

After the passage of the legislation in the Lower House, civil rights activist Harsh Mander said if the bill is passed, he will practise civil disobedience.

"I will officially register as a Muslim. I will then refuse to submit any documents to NRC. I will finally demand the same punishment as any undocumented Muslim -- detention centre & withdrawn citizenship. Join this civil disobedience," Mander tweeted.

Mehta, a signatory to the petition, said the citizenship bill will convert a constitutional democracy into a unconstitutional ethnocracy.

"We can debate the past forever. But with CAB India takes a giant step to officially convert a constitutional democracy into a unconstitutional ethnocracy," he tweeted.

Academician Ramchandra Guha hit out at Home Minister Amit Shah and said he was a professed Savarakrite and had no issue with Muhammad Ali Jinnah's two-nation theory.

"Savarkar, 1943: I have no quarrel with Mr Jinnah's two-nation theory. We Hindus are a nation by ourselves and it is a historical fact that Hindus and Muslims are two nations'. The home minister, a professed Savarkarite, has no quarrel with Mr Jinnah's two-nation theory either," Guha tweeted.

The petition said the idea of India emerged from the independence movement, and as enshrined in Constitution, is that of a country that aspires to treat people of all faiths equally.

(To download our E-paper please click here. The publishers permit sharing of the paper's PDF on WhatsApp and other social media platforms.)

Free Press Journal