Amid flaring tensions in the northeast over recently passed Citizenship Amendment Bill, the US has urged India to protect the rights of its religious minorities in keeping with its Constitution and democratic values as it continues to monitor the developments in various Indian states related to the contentious Citizenship (Amendment) Bill.
“We are closely following developments regarding the Citizenship Amendment Bill. Respect for religious freedom and equal treatment under the law are fundamental principles of our two democracies,” a State Department spokesperson said on Thursday.
“The US urges India to protect the rights of its religious minorities in keeping with India’s Constitution and democratic values,” the spokesperson said.
The Citizenship Amendment Bill (CAB), which seeks to provide Indian citizenship to non-Muslim migrants from Pakistan, Bangladesh, and Afghanistan, was passed by Rajya Sabha on Wednesday despite Opposition leaders condemning the bill vehemently over its communal nature. Lok Sabha cleared the Bill on Monday.
The parliament nod to the bill has led to protests by the people in various states of the country, especially in the Northeastern region where the bill is feared to affect the rights of indigenous tribes and peoples.
India’s Ministry of External Affairs said the Bill provides expedited consideration for Indian citizenship to persecuted religious minorities already in India from certain contiguous countries. It asserted that every nation has the right to enumerate and validate its citizenry and to exercise the prerogative through various policies.
Neighbouring Bangladesh’s Foreign Minister also cancelled his visit to India after the bill was passed by the parliament. The Bill was given the President’s assent after which became an Act on Friday, amid violent protests in Assam and Meghalaya where indefinite curfew has been imposed.