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Malaysian PM Mahathir raises citizenship law, India hits back

Talking to reporters after visiting the media centre at the Kuala Lumpur Summit on Friday, the Malaysian PM said, “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.”

Written by Shubhajit Roy | New Delhi | Updated: December 21, 2019 4:40:24 pm
Won’t deport preacher Zakir Naik to India, says Malaysian PM Mahathir Mohamad Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad (AP Photo/File)

MALAYSIA’S PRIME Minister Mahathir Mohamad on Friday spoke out against the amended citizenship law, the Citizenship (Amendment) Act, saying “people are dying” because of this law. New Delhi was quick to reject the comments as “factually inaccurate”, and called upon Malaysia to refrain from commenting on internal developments in India.

Talking to reporters after visiting the media centre at the Kuala Lumpur Summit on Friday, the Malaysian PM said, “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.” Follow Citizenship Act Protests Live Updates

“If we do that here, you know what will happen. There will be chaos, there will be instability and everyone will suffer,” he said. “Already people are dying because of this law, so why is there a necessity to do this when all this while, for 70 years almost, they have lived together as citizens without any problems.”

His comments assume significance as the Citizenship (Amendment) Act grants citizenship to Hindus, Sikhs, Buddhists, Christians, Jains and Parsis — but not Muslims — who entered the country from Pakistan, Bangladesh and Afghanistan till December 31, 2014.

Mahathir added that Malaysia has granted citizenships to people from the Chinese and Indian communities.

Reacting to these comments, the Ministry of External Affairs said in New Delhi in a statement, “The Prime Minister of Malaysia has yet again remarked on a matter that is entirely internal to India. The Citizenship Amendment Act provides for citizenship through naturalization to be fast-tracked for non-citizens who are persecuted minorities from three countries. The Act does not impact in any manner on the status of any citizen of India, or deprive any Indian of any faith of her or his citizenship.”

“Therefore, the Prime Minister of Malaysia’s comment is factually inaccurate. We call upon Malaysia to refrain from commenting on internal developments in India, especially without a right understanding of the facts,” the MEA statement said.

In recent months, Mahathir had commented on the Indian government’s move to revoke the special status to Jammu and Kashmir under Article 370.

In September, Mahathir had said at the UN General Assembly that India had “invaded and occupied” Kashmir, a disputed Muslim-majority region also claimed by Pakistan.

The MEA spokesperson Raveesh Kumar had then “deeply regretted” the comments and had said that they were not based on facts.

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