Union Home Minister Amit Shah tabled the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill, 2019, in Parliament on Monday.
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." Follow Parliament LIVE Updates
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.
"In conjunction with the ongoing National Register of Citizens (NRC) process in Assam and nationwide NRC that the Home Minister seeks to propose, USCIRF fears that the Indian government is creating a religious test for Indian citizenship that would strip citizenship from millions of Muslims."
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".
Religious pluralism is central to the foundations of both India and the United States and is one of our core shared values. Any religious test for citizenship undermines this most basic democratic tenet. #CABBillhttps://t.co/7wyeXMFfxl
— House Foreign Affairs Committee (@HouseForeign) December 9, 2019
Shah on Monday introduced the contentious bill in Lok Sabha which passed it by a division of votes with 311 in favour and 80 against. During the more than seven-hour-long heated debate, the Home Minister invoked the Partition and said that the BJP had to bring the Bill because the Congress had partitioned the country in 1947 on the basis of religion.
The Opposition attacked the government of violating the basic structure of the Constitution and Articles related to right to equality and prohibition of discrimination on grounds of religion and race, and said it was indulging in divisive and vote-bank politics and stoking fear in the minds of Muslims.