Press India for reversal of CAA, NRC: Top US senator

Washington: Expressing concern over the Citizenship (Amendment) Act (CAA) and the potential for the establishment of a nationwide National Register of Citizens (NRC) in India, top US senator urged secretary of state Mike Pompeo to press the Indian government for a “swift reversal” of CAA and NRC to ensure protection of human rights of all persons in the country regardless of their religion.

Senator Bob Menendez, a ranking member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee wrote a letter to Pompeo on Tuesday and asserted that the US must remain steadfast in defending democratic values, freedoms and human rights.

“I urge the administration to engage the Indian government at the highest levels on these concerns, press for a swift reversal of these policies and practices, and ensure protection of the human rights of all persons in India regardless of their religion” he wrote.

According to the CAA, members of Hindu, Sikh, Buddhist, Jain, Parsi and Christian communities, except Muslims, who have come from Pakistan, Bangladesh and Afghanistan till December 31, 2014, will get Indian citizenship.

According to Telegraph India Menendez claimed that the law to grant citizenship based on religion violates India’s international legal obligations and its constitution, which guarantees the rights to equality and non-discrimination.

The Democrat leader who represents New Jersey added “The citizen registry has already disproportionately affected Muslims in India. These efforts threaten India’s long history of secularism and democratic values.”

The Senator observed “Despite the government’s claims that the Citizenship Bill seeks to protect religious minorities, its failure to include Muslim groups facing persecution in neighbouring countries, such as Pakistan’s Ahmadiyya and Burma’s Rohingya, signal an anti-Muslim intent.”

The Democrat leader also expressed concerns over reports of injuries and deaths of peaceful demonstrators protesting the CAA and the proposed nationwide NRC.

Expressing concerns on the situation in Kashmir, senator Menendez stated: “The situation in Kashmir has also not normalised since the abrogation of Article 370 of the Constitution in August. The five-month Internet shutdown in Kashmir is the longest ever in a democracy, and has left people’s lives, jobs, and the economy in a more dire situation.”