Indian Govt hits back as 2 US panels flay bill, NRC, call for curbs

India on Tuesday pushed back strongly against criticism from the United States of the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill and the National Register of Citizens, including suggestions for sanctions against home minister Amit Shah and other principal leadership, saying interpretation that they seek to strip citizenship from any Indian citizen of any faith is “neither accurate nor warranted”. “Every nation, including the United States, has the right to enumerate and validate its citizenry, and to exercise this prerogative through various policies”, the ministry of external affairs said in a strongly-worded statement, clarifying that the Bill provides “expedited consideration for Indian citizenship to persecuted religious minorities already in India from certain contiguous countries.” Passage of the CAB in Lok Sabha attracted attention and criticism of United States Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF), a quasi-government body that has repeatedly irked New Delhi with what the latter sees as gratuitous inferences on developments in India, and the Democrat-controlled House Foreign Affairs Committee (HFAC). “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,”; the HFAC, which has already riled the Modi government with its criticism of the developments in Kashmir, said in a tweet citing a New York Times report.
Under the headline “India Steps Toward Making Naturalization Harder for Muslims,” the report the country has taken “a major step toward the official marginalization of Muslims,” an interpretation New Delhi says is mischievous because Muslims who are already bonafide citizens are not affected by the bill.
The USCIRF went even further, saying it was “deeply troubled” over the passage of the Bill in the Lok Sabha, and suggesting that “If the CAB passes in both houses of Parliament, the United States government should consider sanctions against the home minister and other principal leadership”.
Lashing out that the US body is guided by its “prejudices and biases on a matter on which it has clearly little knowledge and no locus standi,” New Delhi maintained that neither the CAB nor the National Register of Citizens (NRC) process seeks to strip citizenship from any Indian citizen of any faith and “suggestions to that effect are motivated and unjustified.”
The Trump administration, which instituted religion-specific ban aimed at Muslims coming to the US, had not commented on the developments in India at the time of writing this report.
The USCIRF has repeatedly tangled with New Delhi with criticism about India’s purported failure to protect its minorities. New Delhi in turn has denied visas to members of the body who it says want to visit India on fishing expeditions.
Among the five commissioners at the bipartisan USCIRF is Indian-American Anurima Bhargava, a Nancy Pelosi appointed civil rights lawyer who has done advocacy for members of underrepresented communities.

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