Washington DC/New Delhi: Terming the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill “a dangerous turn in the wrong direction,” the US Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) has stated it is “deeply troubled” by the Bill’s religion criterion and the US government should consider sanctions against Union Home Minister Amit Shah if the Bill is passed by the Upper House too.
Raising serious concerns over the passage of CAB in Lok Sabha late Tuesday, USCIRF in a press note said, “The CAB enshrines a pathway to citizenship for immigrants that specifically excludes Muslims, setting a legal criterion for citizenship based on religion. 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.”
According to the proposed legislation, Hindus, Sikhs, Buddhists, Jains, Parsis and Christians 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 ignores Muslims.
The federal US Commission on International Religious Freedom said introduction of CAB along with the ongoing National Register of Citizens (NRC) process has instilled fears that the “religious test” would strip millions of Muslims of their citizenship.
The United States House Committee on foreign Affairs in a tweet said, religious pluralism is central to the foundations of both India and the US, and “any religious test for citizenship undermines this most basic democratic tenet”.