US Federal Commission Seeks Sanctions Against Amit Shah Over Citizenship Amendment Bill
Describing the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill as a “dangerous turn in the wrong direction”, the US Commission for International Religious Freedom or USCIRF – a federal commission on international religious freedom – has sought American sanctions against Amit Shah and other principal Indian leadership if the bill with the “religious criterion” is passed by both houses of the Indian Parliament.
The Lok Sabha passed the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill on Monday night, which seeks to provide Indian citizenship to non-Muslim refugees coming from three Muslim-majority countries- Pakistan, Bangladesh and Afghanistan after facing religious persecution there.
According to the proposed legislation, members of Hindu, Sikh, Buddhist, Jain, Parsi and Christian communities, who have come from Pakistan, Bangladesh and Afghanistan on or before December 31, 2014, will not be treated as illegal immigrants, but given Indian citizenship.
In a statement issued on Monday, the US Commission for International Religious Freedom or USCIRF alleged that the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill sanctifies a pathway to citizenship for immigrants specifically excluding Muslims and setting a legal criterion for citizenship based on religion.
It claimed that “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.”
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 Home Minister Amit Shah and other principal leadership,” the commission suggested.
“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 said.
Amit Shah on Monday introduced the Citizenship Amendment Bill in Lok Sabha, where it was passed with 311 members favouring it and 80 voting against it.
It will now be tabled in the Rajya Sabha for its approval.
The bill was opposed by the Congress, Trinamool Congress and other Opposition parties.
“Citizenship amendment bill has the endorsement of 130 crore citizens of the country as it was the part of the BJP manifesto in 2014 as well as 2019 Lok Sabha elections,” he said.
It also said that for more than a decade now the Indian government has ignored the statements and annual reports of the USCIRF.
Meanwhile, a Congressional Committee has also voiced concerns over the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill, noting that any religious test for citizenship undermines pluralism, which is the core shared values for both India and the US.
“Religious pluralism is central to the foundations of both India and the United States,” House Foreign Affairs Committee said in a tweet Monday afternoon.
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