The US Commission for International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) has said that the Citizenship Amendment Bill is a “dangerous turn in the wrong direction.” It has additionally sought America to impose sanctions against India’s Home Minister Amit Shah, if the bill is passed by the Indian Parliament.
HM Amit Shah tabled the Citizenship Amendment Bill, 2019, in the lower house of the parliament yesterday. 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 facing religious persecution there, will not be treated as illegal immigrants but given Indian citizenship.
The bill was passed in the Lok Sabha with 311 members favouring it and 80 voting against it. Next is a Rajya Sabha approval.
HM 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.
Post this, the US Commission for International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) said it was deeply troubled over this bill.
“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 bill has been opposed by the Congress, Trinamool Congress and other important Opposition parties.
USCIRF further said, “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. USCIRF fears that the Indian government is creating a religious test for Indian citizenship that would strip citizenship from millions of Muslims”.
During UPA and even now, India has maintained that it does not recognise a third country’s views or reports on its internal affairs. Based on this, it has denied visas to USCIRF from traveling to India, since a decade now.
Recommendations from this body are taken seriously by the US Government in particular the State Department which is tasked with powers to impose sanctions against foreign entities/individuals for violation of religious freedom and human rights.