‘Prejudiced’: MEA on USCIRF Recommending Sanctions on Shah
Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) Spokesperson Raveesh Kumar has dismissed the comments made by the US Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) on the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill, calling them “neither accurate nor warranted”.
“The Statement made by the USCIRF on the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill is neither accurate nor warranted. The Bill provides expedited consideration for Indian citizenship to persecuted religious minorities already in India from certain contiguous countries. It seeks to address their current difficulties and meet their basic human rights. Such an initiative should be welcomed, not criticized by those who are genuinely committed to religious freedom.”Raveesh Kumar, Spokesperson of the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA)
He further states that the CAB ‘does not affect the existing avenues available to all communities interested in seeking citizenship from doing so.’
Kumar further reiterates that neither the CAB nor the National Register of Citizens (NRC) tries to strip Indian citizenship from Indian of any faith. He calls such suggestions “motivated and unjustified”.
“The position articulated by USCIRF is not surprising given its past record. It is, however, regrettable that the body has chosen to be guided only by its prejudices and biases on a matter on which it clearly has little knowledge and no locus standi.”Raveesh Kumar, Official Spokesperson of the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA)
A federal US commission on international religious freedom has said that the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill is a "dangerous turn in wrong direction" and sought American sanctions against Home Minister Amit Shah if the bill is passed by both Houses of the Indian Parliament.
According to the proposed legislation, members of Hindu, Sikh, Buddhist, Jain, Parsi and Christian communities, who have come from Pakistan, Bangladesh and Afghanistan, till 31 December 2014 facing religious persecution there, will not be treated as illegal immigrants but given Indian citizenship.
Shah on Monday introduced the controversial bill in Lok Sabha, where it was passed with 311 members favouring it and 80 voting against it, will now be tabled in the Rajya Sabha for its nod.
USCIRF ‘Deeply Troubled’ by Passage of CAB
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 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.
However, the bill has been opposed by the Congress, Trinamool Congress and other Opposition parties.
In a statement issued on Monday, the US Commission for International Religious Freedom (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.
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.
USCIRF Recommendations Not Taken Seriously by India
"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.
Stating that in conjunction with the ongoing National Register of Citizens (NRC) process in Assam and nationwide NRC that Home Minister Shah seeks to propose, the commission said: "USCIRF fears that the Indian government is creating a religious test for Indian citizenship that would strip citizenship from millions of Muslims".
India from the days of the previous United Progressive Alliance (UPA) regime has consistently said that it does not recognises a third country's views or reports on its internal affairs.
It is based on this ground that India for more than a decade now has denied visas to USCIRF to travel to India for their on the ground assessment of the religious freedom in India.
Recommendations of USCIRF are not enforceable. However, its recommendations are seriously taken into consideration by the US Government in particular the State Department which is tasked with powers to take sanctionable actions against foreign entities and individuals for violation of religious freedom and human rights.
(With inputs from PTI.)
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