The Citizenship (Amendment) Act (CAA) is set to create the largest statelessness crisis in the world and cause immense human suffering, said a group of over 150 lawmakers of the European Union in a draft resolution. Reports suggest it is likely to be debated on January 29 and a vote is expected on January 30.
The Union government reacted to the development saying the CAA is a matter that’s “entirely internal to India” and was adopted by “due process and thorough democratic means” after a debate in the two Houses of Parliament, reported NDTV.
Since Prime Minister Narendra Modi returned for a second term, the Government of India has reinforced its nationalistic orientation, discriminating against, harassing and prosecuting national and religious minorities and silencing any opposition, human rights groups, human rights defenders, and journalists critical of the government, it said.
“Protesters have been met with a show of force and restrictive measures that infringe on their right to be seen and heard,” the draft resolution said while urging the Indian authorities to “engage constructively with the protesters and consider their demands to repeal the discriminatory CAA”.
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This comes after the Economist Intelligence Unit ranked lowered India by 10 places in the Democracy Index. The lawmakers have also asked the European Union to insist on a “strong human rights clause with an effective implementation and suspension mechanism” during any trade agreement.
The lawmakers have also noted the “Government of India’s response to the protests has included the imposition of a curfew, a shutdown of internet services, detention of human rights activists and alleged torture.” They also condemned the “torture and detention of minors and peaceful protesters and the imprisonment of those critical of the authorities.”
The CAA leaves out Muslims and others from these countries, as well as Tamil refugees from Sri Lanka, Rohingyas from Myanmar, and Buddhist refugees from Tibet, the lawmakers noted. They said the amendment introduces religion as a criterion for citizenship for the first time under Indian nationality law and violates the secular nature of India’s constitution.
The lawmakers also expressed their “deep concern” at the fact that “India has created the legal grounds to strip millions of Muslims of the fundamental right of equal access to citizenship; is concerned that the CAA could be used, along with the National Register of Citizens, to render many Muslim citizens stateless.”
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They contended the CAA also “violates India’s international obligations to prevent deprivation of citizenship and the Article 15 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR), which states that ‘Everyone has the right to a nationality’ and that ‘No one shall be arbitrarily deprived of his nationality nor denied the right to change his nationality’.
The CAA provides Indian citizenship for non-Muslim minorities from Pakistan, Bangladesh, and Afghanistan if they fled religious persecution and entered India before 2015. It has triggered widespread protests in the country that has led to several deaths in the last one month.
In the resolution, the lawmakers also condemned the “unilateral changes made to the status of Kashmir by India” and asked both sides to implement the recommendations of the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) report on Kashmir.
Till date, 625 of 751 EU members have moved six resolutions on the CAA and the clampdown in Jammu and Kashmir, reports said.
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