A group of Tamil Hindus on Monday criticised the government for what it called the overlooking of Hindus from Sri Lanka from the list of persecuted minorities who will be able to seek citizenship in India.
On Monday, home minister Amit Shah introduced the Citizenship Amendment Bill (CAB), 2019, in the Lok Sabha.
Late in the night, it passed the Lower House.
Maravanpulavu K Sachitananthan, leader of the Sri Lankan Shiva Senai, a group of Hindus in the island nation, said the situation for Hindus in Sri Lanka was not different from their situation in Afghanistan, Pakistan and Bangladesh. But the bill has “conveniently ignored the 10,000-year-old history of the Hindus in Sri Lanka,” Sachitananthan said.
In India, the demand to include Tamil Hindus resonated in the Lok Sabha as well, with parties such as the BJP and the DMK raising demand. T Siva, Rajya Sabha MP and senior DMK member said the government should reconsider leaving out Muslims and Tamil Hindus from the CAB’s ambit. Speaking during the discussion Dayanidhi Maran of the DMK raised the issue as did BJD’s Prasanna Acharya who said, “We’ll support Citizenship Amendment Bill but our suggestion is to include Sri Lanka in it.”
Making a case for extending the ambit of the Bill to Tamil Hindu, the Shiva Senai, which claims to have support from the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) cited a long list of incidents of alleged attacks on Hindu properties, including temples to buttress their case. “…Today Hindus have fled to 40 countries seeking refuge. Twelve lakh Hindu refugees from Sri Lanka are spread across the world. Except in India in almost all the countries these Hindu refugees enjoy citizenship or permanent resident status,” Sachitananthan said. Since 1983 almost 300,000 Tamil Hindus have been in India as refugees, of these 100,000 are in refugee camps, he added.
A BJP leader said on condition of anonymity that the concerns of Tamil Hindus cannot be clubbed with the persecuted minorities from the three countries listed in the CAB. He said the issue of Tamils in SL is a political battle, unlike the problem being faced by Hindus in other counties, where they are being forced to flee for wanting to follow their faith.