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    US should consider sanctions against Amit Shah, others if CAB becomes law, says US commission on religious freedom

    US should consider sanctions against Amit Shah, others if CAB becomes law, says US commission on religious freedom

    US should consider sanctions against Amit Shah, others if CAB becomes law, says US commission on religious freedom
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    By CNBC-TV18  IST (Updated)

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    The United States’ federal body on religious freedom has raised concerns about the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill that was introduced by home minister Amit Shah and subsequently passed in the Lok Sabha at the stroke of midnight on Monday.

    The United States’ federal body on religious freedom has raised concerns about the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill that was introduced by home minister Amit Shah and subsequently passed in the Lok Sabha at the stroke of midnight on Monday. It has also raised the prospects of imposing sanctions on Shah and “other principal leadership” if the bill also passes in the Rajya Sabha.
    “The US 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 USCIRF said in a statement dated December 9.
    “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 statement added.
    USCIRF’s objection
    The Citizenship (Amendment) Bill, 2019, seeks to grant Indian citizenship to non-Muslim refugees from Pakistan, Bangladesh and Afghanistan if they faced religious persecution there. They will be given Indian citizenship after residing in the country for five years, instead of 11 years which is the current norm.
    The USCIRF said that the exclusion of Muslims in CAB means it runs counter to the Indian constitution and secular pluralism.
    “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.”
    ‘Religious test’
    The USCIRF has also raised the issue of the National Register of Citizens (NRC) and its application nationwide following its implementation in Assam that saw close to 2 million people excluded from the citizenship list.
    On November 20, Shah said that the Union government intends to launch a nationwide National Registry of Citizens (NRC), an ambitious exercise to identify and separate legal citizens and illegal immigrants across the country.
    Shah on December 2 during a pre-poll rally in Jharkhand announced 2024 as the deadline for the nationwide NRC. “I assure you the Bharatiya Janata Party government led by Narendra Modi will implement NRC across India and infiltrators will be thrown out before we come to you to seek votes the next time,” he said.
    The US federal body said that the CAB and NRC together is creating a religious test for Indian Muslims that would strip millions of them of 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 USCIRF is a US federal government commission which was created by the International Religious Freedom Act (IRFA) of 1998 under Bill Clinton’s presidency.
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