Neither accurate nor warranted: India rejects US panel’s criticism on Citizenship Bill
New Delhi, Dec 10: Rejecting US panel's criticism on Citizenship Amendment Bill, India on Tuesday said that the statement was neither accurate nor warranted. He also said that the bill doesn't impact religious freedom.
MEA Spokesperson Raveesh Kumar said,'' US Commission on International Religious Freedom's statement on Citizenship (Amendment) Bill neither accurate nor warranted.''
''Neither Citizenship Amendment Bill nor NRC process seeks to strip citizenship from any Indian citizen of any faith. Regrettable that USCIRF chose to be guided only by its biases on a matter on which it has no locus standi,'' MEA Spokesperson further said.
We regret the inaccurate and unwarranted comments made by USCIRF on #CAB. They have chosen to be guided by their prejudices and biases on a matter on which they have little knowledge and no locus standi.— Raveesh Kumar (@MEAIndia) December 10, 2019
Read our full statement below ⬇️ pic.twitter.com/BLajy03MtZ
Earlier in the day, Describing the Citizenship Amendment Bill as a "dangerous turn in the wrong direction", a federal US commission on international religious freedom has sought American sanctions against Home Minister Amit Shah and other principal Indian leadership if the bill with the "religious criterion" is passed by both houses of Parliament.
The Lok Sabha passed the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill, which seeks to provide Indian citizenship to non-Muslim refugees coming from Pakistan, Bangladesh and Afghanistan after facing religious persecution there, a little past midnight on Monday.
According to the proposed legislation, members of Hindu, Sikh, Buddhist, Jain, Parsi and Christian communities, who have come from Pakistan, Bangladesh and Afghanistan till December 31, 2014, and facing religious persecution there, will not be treated as illegal immigrants but given Indian citizenship.
In a statement issued on Monday, the US Commission for International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) alleged that the CAB enshrines a pathway to citizenship for immigrants that specifically excludes Muslims, setting a legal criterion for citizenship based on religion.
"The CAB is a dangerous turn in the wrong direction; it runs counter to India's rich history of secular pluralism and the Indian Constitution, which guarantees equality before the law regardless of faith," it said. The USCIRF said that it was deeply troubled over the passage of the bill in Lok Sabha. "If the CAB passes in both houses of Parliament, the US government should consider sanctions against the Home Minister Amit Shah and other principal leadership," the commission said.
"The USCIRF is deeply troubled by the passage of the CAB, originally introduced by Home Minister Shah, in the Lok Sabha given the religion criterion in the bill," it added.
Shah on Monday introduced the controversial bill in Lok Sabha, where it was passed with 311 members favouring it and 80 votings against it. It will now be tabled in the Rajya Sabha for its nod. Shah while introducing the bill had made it clear that people belonging to any religion should not have any fear under Prime Minister Narendra Modi's government as he asserted that the bill will give relief to those minorities who have been living a painful life after facing persecution in neighbouring countries. Shah asserted that the bill has the "endorsement of 130 crore Indian citizens" and rejected suggestions that the measure is anti-Muslims, saying it will give rights to persecuted minorities from Pakistan, Bangladesh and Afghanistan.
Meanwhile, a powerful Congressional Committee has also voiced concerns over the CAB, noting that any religious test for citizenship undermines pluralism, which is the core shared values for both India and the US.
The powerful Congressional committee also shared an article from The New York Times on the issue. "It is the most significant move yet to profoundly alter India's secular nature enshrined by its founding leaders when the country gained independence in 1947," the daily said in its news dispatch from India.