ISLAMABAD: The US Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) has showed concerns over the passage of the discriminatory bill, on Tuesday.
According to reports, USCIRF said it will propose sanctions against senior members of the Indian political leadership if the bill is enacted as law.
The USCIRF in its statement noted that the bill specifically excluded Muslims, setting a legal criterion for citizenship based on religion.
“The Citizenship (Amendment) Bill is a dangerous turn in the wrong direction; it runs counter to India’s rich history of secular pluralism,” the statement said.
The commission also condemned the bill as a ‘violation’ of the Indian constitution, relating it to recent efforts to introduce the National Register of Citizens (NRC) in Assam and nationwide. The NRC, like the citizenship bill, is widely believed to be the brain-child of the Indian Home Minister, Amit Shah.
“USCIRF fears that the Indian government is creating a religious test for Indian citizenship that will strip citizenship from millions of Muslims,” the USCIRF warned.
In a statement made separately early Tuesday, the US House Foreign Affairs Committee also condemned the passage of the contentious bill through the Indian lower house, saying that the so-called ‘religious test’ for citizenship undermined basic democratic tenets shared by the US and India.
The ruling BJP in India had included the passage of the CAB as part of its manifesto released ahead of elections in May 2019.
The citizenship bill also sparked protests in India’s northeastern states, where residents are unhappy about an influx of Hindus from neighbouring Bangladesh.
In Guwahati in Assam state, protesters set fire to tyres, while tribal groups staged protests in Tripura. Student groups called for dawn-to-dusk shutdown in four districts of the state, while shops, businesses, educational and financial institutions remained shut and public transport stayed off the roads.
“We will fight and oppose the bill till the last drop of our blood,” All Assam Students’ Union adviser Samujjal Bhattacharya told Reuters, underlining the region’s resistance against migrants amid fears that tens of thousands of settlers from neighbouring Bangladesh would gain citizenship.
In Modi’s home state of Gujarat and the city of Kolkata, hundreds of people staged protests and marched against the proposed law.