"Misplaced, Misinformed, Unwarranted": India On US' CAA Remarks

Earlier today US State Department spokesperson Matthew Miller was asked if the CAA could affect religious freedom in India, to which he said, "We are concerned..."

The opposition called the CAA the BJP's "desperate attempt at divisive politics".

New Delhi:

The government on Friday rejected the United States' "will closely monitor" comment on India's implementation of the Citizenship Amendment Act, or CAA, calling out the remarks as "misplaced, misinformed, and unwarranted" and interference in New Delhi's internal matters.

"The Citizenship Amendment Act is about giving citizenship, not about taking away citizenship. It addresses the issue of statelessness, provides human dignity and supports human rights," the Ministry of External Affairs spokesperson said at a scheduled press briefing this afternoon.

"As regards the US State Department's statement on the implementation of the CAA, we are of the view that it is misplaced, misinformed, and unwarranted," the ministry spokesperson stressed.

In a sharp response, the government also said, "Lectures by those who have a limited understanding of India's pluralistic traditions, and the region's post-partition history are best not attempted.

"Partners and well-wishers of India should welcome the intent in this step."

Earlier today US State Department spokesperson Matthew Miller was asked if the American government is concerned that the CAA could affect religious freedom in India. "We are concerned... we are closely monitoring this law (and) how it will be implemented," Mr Miller responded.

READ | "Will Closely Monitor...": US On India's New Citizenship Law

The CAA was notified Monday, weeks before the country holds a general election.

The law - it was cleared by Parliament in 2019 but implementation was delayed due to the pandemic - is meant to ease the citizenship process for undocumented non-Muslim migrants (from six communities) who are fleeing from religious persecution in Pakistan, Afghanistan, and Bangladesh.

Critics have questioned the government over the exclusion of Muslims, but Home Minister Amit Shah has said the law is meant to help minorities in those countries facing religious persecution.

READ | Why Parsis, Christians CAA Eligible But Not Muslims? Amit Shah Explains

He said Muslims from these, and other nations, can still apply for citizenship under existing laws.

The government also said the CAA did not mean Indian Muslims' rights would be rescinded or scrapped. India's estimated 18 crore Muslims will have "equal rights as any other citizen".

READ | Government Clarifies Citizenship Law Amid Opposition Attacks

The CAA, the government stressed further concerns only Hindus, Sikhs, Christians, Parsis, Buddhists, or Jains from three Muslim-majority nations - Bangladesh, Afghanistan, and Pakistan - who fled due to religious persecution and entered India on or before December 31, 2014.

Also, the law only reduces waiting period for application of citizenship - to qualifying individuals - from 11 years to five, the government has said.

"The Constitution guarantees freedom of religion to all Indians. There are no grounds for any concern on treatment of minorities. Vote-bank politics should not determine views about a laudable initiative to help those in distress," the External Affairs Ministry spokesperson declared today.

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