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USCIRF's comments on Citizenship Bill will have no bearing on US-India ties, says Michael Kugelman

Updated : December 10, 2019 09:58:48 IST

A day after the Lok Sabha passed the contentious Citizenship Amendment Bill, the US Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) has sent out a stern message. It has said that the passage of the bill by Lok Sabha is deeply troubling and has recommended that the US should consider sanctions if this bill were to become a law.

The commission also said that the Indian government is creating a religious test for Indian citizenship that would strip millions of Muslims of their citizenship.

The Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) has called the statement regrettable and said that the USCIRF is guided by its own prejudices and biases. The MEA also said that the US Commission on International Religious Freedom has no locus-standi on the matter. To discuss this CNBC-TV18 spoke to Michael Kugelman of Wilson Centre and Anil Trigunayat Former Diplomat.

Trigunayat said, "Whatever is happening in India, it is an internal matter. As the Ministry of External Affairs has clearly said that these are ill-informed people who have been doing it with prejudices. The United States agencies and these kinds of organisations work under certain pressure group and that is how their democracy functions."

Kugelman said, "First, this US Commission does not set policy including policy on India. It has no bearing on the direction of US-India relations or US policy towards India. This commission or USCIRF as we call here, it is meant to do exactly what it has done with this statement about the citizenship bill in India. It is meant to bring attention to what it perceives to be threats to religious freedom or violations of religious freedom around the world. It has been critical of many countries in that regard including India previously. I would certainly acknowledge the criticism coming from India that it is rather hypocritical for US government agencies to be coming out with this type of criticism given the very real concerns about religious freedom and discrimination against religious minorities in the US."
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