Malaysia’s PM hits out at India as protests rage over citizenship law

Students protest outside a university in New Delhi against a new citizenship law seen as anti-Muslim. (AP pic). Sketched by the Pan Pacific Agency.

KUALA LUMPUR, Dec 20, 2019, FMT. Dr Mahathir Mohamad has criticised India’s ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) over a new citizenship law that has sparked violent protests throughout the subcontinent over claims of religious discrimination, Free Malaysia Today reported.

“I am sorry to see that India, which claims to be a secular state, is now taking action to deprive some Muslims of their citizenship,” he told reporters at the Kuala Lumpur Summit 2019 here.

This is the second time the prime minister criticised India after his controversial remarks on Kashmir at the United Nations General Assembly in September, which led to calls to boycott Malaysian palm oil.

Mahathir said Malaysia on the other hand has been fair in giving citizenship.

“I think we have accepted that the Indians who came to this country, the Chinese… we gave them citizenship even when they did not qualify, and they are all in the government,” he said.

India’s parliament recently passed a law which offers amnesty to non-Muslim illegal immigrants from three neighbouring countries.

The Citizenship Amendment Act fast-tracks applications for immigrants, including Hindus, Sikhs, Buddhists, Jains, Parsis and Christians who arrived in India before 2015.

Critics say it is part of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s efforts to undermine Indian Muslims who make up 14% of the population, and to reshape India as a Hindu nation.

The bill has prompted widespread protests in the north-east of the country which borders Bangladesh, as many people there say they will be “overrun” by immigrants from across the border.

Mahathir questioned the need for such laws, saying Indians have lived peacefully for 70 years.

He said if Malaysia were to enact citizenship laws similar to India, “you know what will happen”.

“There will be chaos, there will be instability and everyone will suffer,” he added.

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