A US Federal Commission which focuses on the International Religious Freedom said that India’s Citizenship (Amendment) Bill, 2019 (CAB) is a “Dangerous turn in wrong direction” and will pursue a sanction against Amit Shah, Home Minister, if CAB is passed in both Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha.
Just after midnight, Lok Sabha passed the CAB. CAB proposes that India will give citizenship to Hindus, Buddhists, Parsis, Jains, Christians, and Sikhs who had fled owing to religious persecution in Afghanistan, Bangladesh, and Pakistan, and came to India before or on the 31st December 2014. The Bill says it will give citizenship to the minorities of those countries. 311 members of the Lok Sabha out of 545 members voted in favour of CAB whereas 80 members opposed the bill.
CAB will now be presented in the Rajya Sabha for approval.
As the bill was passed in Lok Sabha, the US Commission for the International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) said that it was profoundly distressed over the green flag given to the bill, in a statement.
The Commission suggested “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 added “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”.
According to the reports, recommendations given by the USCIRF are not enforceable but itself, however their recommendations are considered by the government of US, especially by the State Department. The State Department has the power to take sanctionable actions against both foreign individuals and bodies who violates Human Rights and Religious Freedom.
The Trump administration has not made any comment on this matter as of now. However, the The US House Committee on Foreign Affairs of the US House of Representatives, also known as House Foreign Affairs Committee lent support to USCIRF’s remarks as it posted a tweet less than 12 hours ago saying “Religious pluralism is central to the foundations of both India and the United States and is one of our core shared values. Any religious test for citizenship undermines this most basic democratic tenet. #CABBill”
Religious pluralism is central to the foundations of both India and the United States and is one of our core shared values. Any religious test for citizenship undermines this most basic democratic tenet. #CABBillhttps://t.co/7wyeXMFfxl— House Foreign Affairs Committee (@HouseForeign) December 9, 2019
According to USCIRF, the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill, 2019 carves out how immigrants can get citizenship, but excluding Muslims is setting a legal criteria for citizenship based on religion.
It stated that combining it with the ongoing NRCs (National Register of Citizens) process in Assam and a possible application nationwide the USCIRF “fears that the Indian government is creating a religious test for Indian citizenship that would strip citizenship from millions of Muslims”.
It has been more than a decade now that the Indian government has ignored USCIRF’s annual reports and statements. India has maintained a stand saying that the country will not take views and reports of another country into account for its Internal Affairs.