Explained: Why many Indians are protesting against the new citizenship law

The Indian government’s new Citizenship Amendment Act has sparked massive nationwide protests. The National's Suhail Rather explains why

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The Indian government’s new Citizenship Amendment Act that grants nationality to thousands of immigrants from certain religions has sparked violent nationwide protests.

The new law offers religious minorities from neighbouring Muslim majority states who immigrated illegally to apply for citizenship. This includes Hindus, Sikhs, Parsees, Jains and Christians from Pakistan, Afghanistan and Bangladesh.

But the law does not include Muslims.

Muslims in the country say the new law specifically marginalises them and critics say it is a move by a Hindu nationalist government to undermine the secular state.

The Modi-led government has defended the decision saying that Muslims are not religious minorities in Pakistan, Afghanistan and Bangladesh.

The law has not just stoked religious anger. There is a massive backlash in the country's north-east.

People there say that the new law will lead to a massive rise in immigration, eroding their culture and taking their jobs.