The measure is the latest move by the governing Hindu nationalist BJP that targets followers of Islam. A previous measure stripped millions of mainly Muslim residents of Assam of citizenship.
India’s governing Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) is introducing a new bill to parliament which limits the granting of nationality to non-Muslim refugees only.
According to the Times newspaper, Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s cabinet approved the bill on Wednesday and now it is subject to approval by MPs. As the BJP has a majority in the Indian parliament’s lower house, the bill is expected to pass into law.
Critics say the move further demonstrates the BJP and Modi’s agenda of marginalising India’s Muslim population, which amounts to around 14 percent of its 1.3 billion strong population.
“BJP is showing its true colours and implementing their ideology. #Citizenship cannot be granted on the basis of religion. #CitizenshipAmendmentBill is a violation of Article 14 and 21 and plot to make Muslims stateless in their own country,” wrote the Telangana state based Muslim political party, All India Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen.
The move is the latest BJP measure that specifically targets Muslim communities within India and territories under its control.
In August, New Delhi stripped the majority Muslim state of Jammu and Kashmir of its constitutional protections, which gave it a degree of nominal autonomy.
That was followed by a crackdown that cut off internet and phone connections across the region, a disputed territory between India and Pakistan, shutting its residents off from the outside world.
Also in August, the country published a list of Indian citizens in the eastern state of Assam, excluding almost two million people, who up until that point had considered themselves Indian nationals.
Those omitted, who were overwhelmingly Muslim, are accused of either being or descended from people who moved from Bangladesh as illegal immigrants.
Critics said the move was aimed at shifting the demographics of the state so Muslims make up a smaller share.
The BJP has also vowed to build a Hindu temple in Ayodhya at the site of the historic Babri Mosque, which was destroyed by Hindu hardliners in 1992.
After the Supreme Court ruled in favour of the BJP's long-standing demand of replacing the site of Babri Mosque with a Hindu temple, the party said it would “explore all possibilities within the framework of the constitution and all necessary efforts to facilitate the expeditious construction of the Ram temple in Ayodhya.”