‘Prejudices and Biases’: India Rebuts USCIRF for its Reaction to Citizenship Legislation

© AP Photo / Cliff OwenUS Justice Department in Washington
US Justice Department in Washington - Sputnik International
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New Delhi (Sputnik): The US Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) had raised serious concern about India’s decision to pass legislation granting citizenship to illegal immigrants from some countries to everyone but Muslims. It had also asked the US to “consider sanctions against the Home Minister and other principal leadership”.

New Delhi, in a strong rebuttal, said USCIRF has chosen to be guided “only by its prejudices and biases on a matter, which it clearly has little knowledge and no locus standi”.

“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", said Raveesh Kumar, official spokesperson for India’s External Affairs Ministry.

Kumar stated such an initiative should be welcomed, not criticised by those who are genuinely committed to religious freedom.

“Neither the CAB nor the National Register of Citizens (NRC) process seeks to strip citizenship from any Indian citizen of any faith. Suggestions to that effect are motivated and unjustified. Every nation, including the United States, has the right to enumerate and validate its citizenry, and to exercise this prerogative through various policies", said Kumar.

At midnight on 10 December, India’s lower house of parliament cleared the controversial legislation to grant citizenship to illegal migrants, who are Hindus, Sikhs, Buddhists, Jains, Parsis and Christians from Afghanistan, Bangladesh and Pakistan, but excluded Muslims. The Bill was passed with stiff resistance from a minority opposition.

The proposed legislation, if cleared by the upper house of the Indian Parliament, would pave the way for Hindus, Christians, Sikhs, Parsis, Jains, and Buddhists fleeing persecution in Pakistan, Afghanistan, and Bangladesh to seek Indian citizenship.

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