India's lower house of parliament, Lok Sabha, passed a controversial citizenship amendment on Tuesday, January 8, prompting concerns over mass protests. The bill would grant citizenship to non-Muslim immigrants from Afghanistan, Bangladesh, and Pakistan, and has been called discriminatory and an attempt to bolster the Bharatiya Janata Party's (BJP) prospects in the upcoming general elections in May. Thousands of people protested the proposed bill in Assam state, on Monday, January 7, and Tuesday, with reports of vandalism, roadblocks, and security forces firing tear gas. Similar protests and business disruptions are expected to continue in Assam in the coming days. Clashes between protesters and security forces cannot be ruled out.
The proposed bill would grant citizenship to Hindus, Jains, Parsis, Sikhs, and other members of non-Muslim religious groups who have immigrated to India from Afghanistan, Bangladesh, and Pakistan in the past six years, regardless of immigration status. It also follows shortly after a July census announcement by the Registrar General of India that excluded 4 million Muslims in Assam state that were unable to provide citizenship documents to prove they had lived in India before 1971. The upper house of parliament, which is unlikely to approve the bill, has yet to vote on the measure.
Individuals in India, particularly in Assam, are advised to monitor the situation, adhere to instructions issued by local authorities, avoid public demonstrations due to the risk of violence, and anticipate protests, a heightened security presence, and localized business and transportation disruptions.
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