US Panel Slams Citizenship Bill, Govt Hits Back

Condemning the “inaccurate” and “unwarranted” comments made by US Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) on Citizenship Amendment Bill that was passed in the Lok Sabha yesterday, India on Tuesday said that the Bill aims at providing expedited consideration for Indian citizenship to persecuted religious minorities from “contiguous” countries.

In a statement released by Ministry of External Affairs’ spokesperson Raveesh Kumar, New Delhi asserted that the Bill should be “welcomed not criticised”. The Bill seeks to grant Indian citizenship to non-Muslim refugees from Pakistan, Bangladesh, and Afghanistan.

The USCIRF, a US federal government commission, on Tuesday released a statement condemning the Bill. It deemed the Bill as a “dangerous turn in the wrong direction” and has sought American sanctions against Union Home Minister Amit Shah and other principal Indian leadership if the bill with the “religious criterion” is passed by both houses of Parliament.

“The statement made by USCIRF on the Citizenship Amendment Bill is neither accurate nor warranted. The Bill provides expeditated consideration from Indian citizenship to persecuted religious minorities already in India from certain contiguous countries. It seeks to address its current difficulties and meet their basic human rights. Such an initiative should be welcomed not criticised by those who are genuinely committed to religious freedom,” the Ministry of External Affairs said in a statement.

The ministry lashed out at the commission saying, “…It is, however, regrettable that the body has chosen to be guided only by its prejudice and biases on a matter on which it clearly has little knowledge and no locus standi.”

The ministry has clarified that the “CAB does not affect the existing avenues available to all communities interested in seeking citizenship from doing so.”

The Lok Sabha on Monday passed the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill 2019, with a majority of 311 votes against 80 votes where 391 members were present and voting.

The Bill which was introduced by Home Minister Amit Shah has been brought to ensure that persecuted communities in Pakistan, Afghanistan and Bangladesh can live a dignified life in India.

Through this Bill, Indian citizenship will be provided to the members of Hindu, Sikh, Buddhist, Jain, Parsi and Christian communities, who have come from the three countries to India till December 31, 2014, to put an end to them being treated as illegal immigrants in the country.


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