- Within hours of the Lok Sabha passing the CAB, USCIRF issues statement
- “Deeply troubled”, it says.
- CAB a “dangerous turn in wrong direction.”
- Seeks US sanctions against Amit Shah.
- It regrets that India ignored its reports for over a decade.
- Pak PM Imran also parrots Indian Opposition’s stance
New Delhi: Remember the US denying a visa to the then Gujarat Chief Minister, Narendra Modi, after the 2001 riots under pressure from the secular groups? Modi could not go to America for years—until he became the Prime Minister. And thereafter America took a U-Turn!
Something similar is being attempted now against Union Home Minister and BJP President Amit Shah.
Within hours of the Lok Sabha passing the historic Citizenship (Amendment) Bill (CAB), 2019, midnight last night, the US Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) became hyperactive. It claimed on Monday that the Bill is a “dangerous turn in a wrong direction”, echoing what Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Ahmed Khan Niazi and India’s “secular” Opposition have claimed in unison.
The federal US panel also recommended American sanctions against Shah if the Bill becomes Act after passage in the Rajya Sabha as well which are unlikely to be taken seriously even in the West.
Ironically, in doing so, the USCIRF found itself in the august company of Pakistan whose religious persecution of religious minorities over the last several decades had, in fact, necessitated India’s CAB in the first place. Even Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Ahmed Khan Niazi had the guile to condemn the Bill, claiming it “violated all norms of international human rights.”
He would not, however, look at Islamabad’s own pathetic record of persecuting minorities as well as the Shias, Ahmedias, Balochs, Sindhis and the PoK natives since the very creation of Pakistan.
The proposed CAB envisages that members of Hindu, Sikh, Buddhist, Jain, Parsi and Christian communities, coming into India from Pakistan, Bangladesh and Afghanistan, until December 31, 2014, who faced religious persecution there, will not be treated as illegal immigrants but granted Indian citizenship.
The Bill was passed by the Lok Sabha by an overwhelming majority, with 311 members favouring it and 80 voting against it. It will now be tabled in the Rajya Sabha where it is likely to be passed as well.
While introducing the Bill, Shah had made it clear that people from any faith should not have any fear under Prime Minister Narendra Modi government. The Bill will give relief to those minorities who have been living a painful life after facing persecution in neighbouring countries.
He asserted that the Bill was being “supported” by 130 crore Indian citizens, who had elected the Modi Government again, and rejected suggestions that it was “anti-Muslim”, in any manner. It will give rights to the persecuted minorities from Pakistan, Bangladesh and Afghanistan, he said, adding, the CAB was part of the BJP manifestoes in the 2014 and 2019 Lok Sabha elections.
Predictably, several “secular” Opposition parties, led by the Congress, have opposed the Bill.
In a statement on Monday, the USCIRF said that it was “deeply troubled” over the passage of the Bill in Lok Sabha. It said, given the religious criterion in the Bill, if the CAB is passed by both the Houses of Parliament, the US government should consider sanctions against Home Minister Amit Shah and other principal leadership.”
The US panel claimed that 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,” it said.
Stating that along with the ongoing National Register of Citizens (NRC) process in Assam and nationwide NRC that Shah seeks to propose, the Commission said: “The USCIRF fears that the Indian government is creating a religious test for Indian citizenship that would strip citizenship from millions of Muslims”.
It also said that for more than a decade now the Indian government has ignored the statements and annual reports of the USCIRF, apparently regretting that even the then UPA Government had ignored its fulminations! India has consistently said that it does not recognise a third country’s views or reports on its internal affairs.
That was why New Delhi, for more than a decade now, denied visas to the USCIRF to travel to India for their on the ground assessment of the religious freedom in India.
Recommendations of the USCIRF are not enforceable even in the USA. But sometimes the US Government used these as a handle in its foreign policy.