The External Affairs Ministry on Tuesday said the statements made by a committee of the US government on religious freedom on Citizenship (Amendment) Bill are “inaccurate and unwarranted”.
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 the Lok Sabha.
“The statement made by 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,” the ministry said in a statement.
The Lok Sabha, late on Monday night, passed the contentious Citizenship Bill that grants citizenship to religious minorities from three Muslim-majority countries in India’s neighbourhood after a fierce nine-hour debate in which Opposition parties alleged the legislation violated the Constitution by linking faith to citizenship.
The Bill will now be brought in the Rajya Sabha where the ruling party does not enjoy majority.
“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 is ‘deeply troubled’ by the passage of the CAB, originally introduced by Home Minister Shah, in the Lok Sabha given the religion criterion in the bill,” it added.
In response to criticism from the US Commission, the government said the body is guided by its “prejudices and biases on a matter on which it has clearly little knowledge and no locus standi”.
“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,” the statement said.
Home Minister Amit Shah, who piloted the bill in the Lower House, repeatedly emphasised that the bill is not violative of constitutional provisions and that Muslims have nothing to worry as they have nothing to do with this bill.
“If minorities are getting persecuted in neighbouring countries, we cannot be mute spectators. We have to ensure their safety and dignity,” Shah said.
The minister said that under the proposed legislation, citizenship will be granted to refugees without even documents, including ration cards, and blamed the Congress for Partition. “It was the Congress that divided the country on religious lines, not us,” he said.