India has said it will consider the cases of persecuted Ahmadis and Shias from Pakistan, Bangladesh or Afghanistan if they choose to settle in India.
Union Minister Hardeep Singh Puri said they will assess the cases separately. He was speaking at Off the Cuff, an event hosted by The Print in New Delhi.
India recently passed the Citizenship Amendment Act, a law that favors non-Muslim immigrants over three Muslim majority countries. The Act fast-tracks applications for immigrants, including Hindus, Sikhs, Buddhists, Jains, Parsis and Christians who settled in India before 2015 and has been deemed as part of Indian PM Narendra Modi’s Hindi nationalist agenda.
Protests have erupted across the country challenging the law.
In regards to why Muslims were excluded from the Act, Puri said the law deals with three theocratic states with a specific religion.
“That is Islamic religion. If you are a persecuted minority in Pakistan…the persecuted minorities were 20% and are down to 2%. Where have they gone? They have gone and sought shelter elsewhere,” he argued.
When an audience member said Muslims are persecuted in Pakistan as well and should have been part of the Act, Puri said, “I don’t agree that Muslims are not persecuted in Pakistan. I am the first to agree with you, look at Ahmadiyyas, Shias—have we ever said that we will not take them if they are persecuted?”
Read More: What is India’s anti-Muslim bill?
But he cleared out that the entire Muslim population, which is the majority population in those three countries, cannot be considered.