The Federal US Commission on International Religious Freedom has called for a ban against Home Minister Amit Shah and other top leaders in the Indian government if the Citizenship Amendment Bill is passed in the Rajya Sabha. The chilling statement by the USCIRF came hours after the Lok Sabha passed the controversial Bill aimed at giving citizenship to every single illegal immigrant living in India except Muslims.
The US Commission’s statement read, “The U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) is deeply troubled by the passage of the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill (CAB), originally introduced by Home Minister Amit Shah, in the Lok Sabha (the lower house of the Indian Parliament) given the religion criterion in the bill. The CAB will now move to the Rajya Sabha (Indian Parliament’s Upper House). If the CAB passes in both houses of parliament, the United States government should consider sanctions against the Home Minister and other principal leadership.”
The US Commission, which is an independent, bipartisan federal government entity established by the US Congress to monitor, analyze and report on threats to religious freedom across the globe, said that CAB enshrined a pathway to citizenship for immigrants that specifically excluded 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. 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,” it said.
Reacting to the Commission’s chilling recommendation seeking a ban against Amit Shah, the Indian external affairs ministry said that the former had acted in a prejudiced manner. Indian foreign ministry’s spokesperson Raveesh Kumar tweeted, “We regret the inaccurate and unwarranted comments made by USCIRF on #CAB. They have chosen to be guided by their prejudices and biases on a matter on which they have little knowledge and no locus standi.”
We regret the inaccurate and unwarranted comments made by USCIRF on #CAB. They have chosen to be guided by their prejudices and biases on a matter on which they have little knowledge and no locus standi.
Read our full statement below ⬇️ pic.twitter.com/BLajy03MtZ
— Raveesh Kumar (@MEAIndia) December 10, 2019
The Lok Sabha first passed the CAB in January 2019, but due to protests, the government withdrew it before it could be voted on by the Rajya Sabha. Both houses of parliament must ratify a bill before it can become a law. The BJP included the passage of the CAB as part of its manifesto released ahead of its overwhelming electoral victory in May 2019.
India has witnessed violent protests ever since the Bill was introduced in the Lok Sabha on Monday. The violent protests are set to intensify in the days to come.