Kamal Haasan demands inclusion of Sri Lankan refugees in Indian Citizenship Bill

Makkal Needhi Maiam founder Kamal Haasan wondered why Sri Lankan Tamils and Muslims were left out of the ambit of India’s Citizenship (Amendment) Bill if it was a “genuinely benevolent” legislation, the News Minute reported.

“Why are Tamils who are subjected to a methodic genocide and Muslims facing discrimination, be excluded from the bill? If it’s a genuinely benevolent bill and not a vote garnering exercise, then why won’t this CAB stop to pick up stranded Tamils & troubled Muslims of Sri Lanka?” he said in a tweet.

Earlier in the day, spiritual guru Ravi Shankar had batted for providing citizenship to Sri Lankan refugees staying in the country for over three decades.

Lok Sabha passed the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill on Monday. It was tabled in the Rajya Sabha for its consideration on Wednesday.

According to the proposed legislation, members of Hindu, Sikh, Buddhist, Jain, Parsi and Christian communities, who came to India from Pakistan, Bangladesh and Afghanistan by December 31, 2014 and faced religious persecution in those countries, will not be treated as illegal immigrants and given Indian citizenship. This leaves out Muslim refugees from these countries as well other neighbouring countries.

Critics have stated that in case the Government wanted to protect minorities in countries around them, why does the Bill not include groups like Rohingya Muslims from Myanmar, Ahmadi and Shia Muslims in Pakistan and Sri Lankan Muslim Tamils as well, when there have been several reports and studies that they too face religious persecution. It is not just non-Muslims who face persecution in these countries, but different sects of Muslims too.

Tamil Nadu has a significant number of Sri Lankan Tamils living in various parts of the state, including in government camps. Many of them had fled Sri Lanka during the ethnic strife in the 1980s.