Have reached out to US Congress members on Citizenship Bill, says government.
New Delhi: A worried India on Thursday said that it is reaching out to members of the US Congress across party lines to apprise them of the Indian government’s stand on the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill (CAB), even as New Delhi announced that external affairs minister S. Jaishankar and defence minister Rajnath Singh would be travelling to the US for the 2+2 dialogue at the foreign and defence ministerial level on December 18 in Washington DC.
In addition, there are also indications that Indian missions abroad have been tasked with explaining New Delhi’s stand on the CAB to respective foreign governments, if required.
It maybe recalled that in a major escalation, the United States Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) had on Tuesday recommended that the US government consider sanctions against Home minister Amit Shah and “other principal leadership” in case the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill (CAB) is passed by both houses of India’s Parliament. New Delhi had swiftly hit back, saying that the USCIRF “has chosen to be guided only by its prejudices and biases on a matter on which it clearly has little knowledge and no locus standi”.
Defending the Indian Government’s move, the ministry of external affairs (MEA) had said the “Bill provides expedited consideration for Indian citizenship to persecuted religious minorities already in India from certain contiguous countries” and that “it seeks to address their current difficulties and meet their basic human rights”. It added, “Such an initiative should be welcomed, not criticised.”
The MEA has also said “neither the CAB nor the National Register of Citizens (NRC) process seeks to strip citizenship from any Indian citizen of any faith” and that “suggestions to that effect are motivated and unjustified’. It said, “Every nation, including the United States, has the right to enumerate and validate its citizenry”.
Stirring a hornet’s nest from Washington, the USCIRF had been quoted as saying, “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.”
According to recent news agency reports from Washington, a powerful US Congressional Committee had also voiced concerns over the CAB. “Religious pluralism is central to the foundations of both India and the United States and is one of our core shared values,” the house foreign affairs committee had been quoted as saying, adding, “Any religious test for citizenship undermines this most basic democratic tenet.”