- "Position of USCIRF is not surprising given its past record": India
- Bill will give citizenship to persecuted religious minorities, it said
- Citizenship (Amendment) Bill to be presented in Rajya Sabha tomorrow
India has said the statement made by a commission of the US government on religious freedom after the Lok Sabha passed the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill was "regrettable". The US Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) had asked the US government to "consider sanctions against the Home Minister and other principal leadership" for trying to make a law that it says "is creating a religious test for Indian citizenship that would strip citizenship from millions of Muslims".
"The position articulated by USCIRF is not surprising given its past record. It is, however, regrettable that the body has chosen to be guided only by its prejudices and biases on a matter on which it clearly has little knowledge..." the Foreign Ministry said in a statement.
"The statement made by the USCIRF on the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill is neither accurate nor warranted. The bill provides expedited consideration for Indian citizenship to persecuted religious minorities already in India from certain contiguous countries," the government said in the statement, a day before the bill is to be presented in the Rajya Sabha.
"Neither the CAB (Citizenship Amendment Bill) nor the National Register of Citizens (NRC) process seeks to strip citizenship from any Indian citizen of any faith. Suggestions to that effect are motivated and unjustified. Every nation, including the United States, has the right to enumerate and validate its citizenry, and to exercise this prerogative through various policies," India said.
Describing the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill as a "dangerous turn in the wrong direction", the USCIRF had asked for sanctions against Home Minister Amit Shah and other leaders if the bill with the "religious criterion" is passed by both houses of parliament.
"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," the USCIRF said.
The USCIRF is an independent, bipartisan federal government entity established by the US Congress to analyse and report on threats to religious freedom abroad. The USCIRF on its website says it makes foreign policy recommendations to the President, the Secretary of State and Congress intended to deter religious persecution and promote freedom of religion and belief.
In July 2008, the USCIRF had asked the State Department to reaffirm its past decision to deny a tourist visa to Prime Minister Narendra Modi when he was the Chief Minister of Gujarat, who was invited to attend a conference in New Jersey.