New Delhi: India has said that it’s Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA), passed by Parliament in December and seen as discriminatory towards Muslims by some, is a purely internal matter and completed following due process and through democratic means.
“Every society that fashions a pathway to naturalisation, contemplates both a context and criteria. This is not discrimination. Infact, European societies have followed the same approach," said a person familiar with the development said on Sunday.
The comments come against the backdrop of some members of the European Union Parliament looking at moving a clutch of resolutions on the CAA next week.
A total of six resolutions have been tabled by groups within the European Union (EU), including the Group of the Progressive Alliance of Socialists and Democrats in the European Parliament (S&D), Group of the European People's Party (Christian Democrats) (PPE), Group of the Greens/European Free Alliance (Verts/ALE), European Conservatives and Reformists Group (ECR), Renew Europe Group (Renew) and European United Left/Nordic Green Left (GUE/NGL) Group.
The resolutions have a similar theme with a number of them, such as the GUE/NGL Group, also making a reference to the revocation of Article 370 that gave special status to Jammu and Kashmir. They are set to be debated in the European Parliament in Brussels Wednesday and voted on the day after. If passed, it will be formally sent to the Indian government and Parliament as well as to the European Commission chiefs.
"The CAA is a matter that is entirely internal to India. Moreover, this legislation has been adopted by due process and through democratic means after a public debate in both Houses of Parliament," the person cited above said.
“Every society that fashions a pathway to naturalisation, contemplates both a context and criteria. This is not discrimination. Infact, European societies have followed the same approach," the person pointed out.
“We hope the sponsors and supporters of the draft will engage with us to get a full and accurate assessment of the facts before they proceed further. As fellow democracies, the EU Parliament should not take actions that call into question the rights and authority of democratically elected legislatures in other regions of the world," the person said.
The Indian government says that the CAA aims to fastrack Indian citizenship for persecuted minorities like Hindus, Sikhs, Christians, Buddhists, Jains and Parsis seeking asylum in India from three countries — Afghanistan, Bangladesh and Pakistan. This has prompted critics to say that the act is anti-Muslims. Moves by the government to identify illegal migrants in the northeastern state of Assam have resulted in 1.9 million people being left out of citizenship rolls, stoking fears that the government could roll out this exercise nationwide and deny citizenship to some sections of people. This has caused protests in many parts of the country against the CAA and the proposed National Registry of Citizens. Some protests have been going on since December while others have been called off.
The EU resolutions against the CAA make a reference to the Charter of the United Nations, Article 15 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) as well as the India-EU Strategic Partnership Joint Action Plan signed in November 2005, and to the EU-India Thematic Dialogue on Human Rights as it urges the Indian authorities to “engage constructively" with those protesting against the Act and consider their demands to repeal the "discriminatory CAA".
“The CAA marks a dangerous shift in the way citizenship will be determined in India and is set to create the largest statelessness crisis in the world and cause immense human suffering," notes the GUE/NGL draft.
“Instead of addressing the concerns, offering corrective action, calling for security forces to act with restraint and ensuring accountability, many government leaders have been engaging in efforts to discredit, rebuke and threaten the protesters," the resolution says.
As background, the resolution sets out that since the May 2019 election, the government of India has “reinforced its nationalistic orientation" as it also makes a reference to the revocation of Article 370 from Jammu and Kashmir. The resolution, which falls under the category of “Resolutions on topical subjects", states that India has “created the legal grounds to strip millions of Muslims of the fundamental right of equal access to citizenship" and that the CAA could be used, along with the National Register of Citizens, to “render many Muslim citizens stateless".
PTI contributed to this report