India’s parliament has approved legislation granting citizenship to non-Muslim illegal immigrants from mainly Muslim Afghanistan, Bangladesh, and Pakistan.
The draft law passed the upper house of parliament on December 11 after it had already been cleared by the lower house earlier this week.
The Citizenship Amendment Bill seeks to grant Indian nationality to Buddhists, Christians, Hindus, Jains, Parsis, and Sikhs who left the three countries before 2015.
The vote in parliament came as angry protests against the bill intensified in India’s northeastern regions bordering Bangladesh, with police clashing with demonstrators in Assam state.
The constitutional legality of the legislation is expected to be challenged in court, with critics arguing that it is discriminatory and undermines the country’s secular constitution.
However, the ruling Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party says the bill will give sanctuary to people fleeing religious “persecution.”