Washington, December 10 (KMS): The US Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) has proposed sanctions against Indian Home Minister Amit Shah and other Indian principal leadership if the Rajya Sabha also passes the controversial Citizenship (Amendment) Bill (CAB).

The US Commission in a release shortly after the Lok Sabha passed CAB around midnight said, “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.”

USCIRF consists of appointees by US President Donald Trump and majority and minority leaders of both Houses of US Congress.

The statement noted that CAB was originally introduced by Shah in the Lok Sabha and was deeply troubled by its religion criterion, a reference to the proposed exclusion of Muslim undocumented migrants from being granted citizenship. In this respect, the USCIRF said CAB “enshrines a pathway to citizenship for immigrants that specifically excludes Muslims, setting a legal criterion for citizenship based on religion”.

It feared that in conjunction with the ongoing National Register of Citizens (NRC) process in Assam and the nationwide NRC that “the Home Minister seeks to propose”, the Indian government is creating a religious test for Indian citizenship that would strip millions of Muslims of citizenship.

The Lok Sabha had first passed the CAB in January 2019, but due to protests, the government withdrew it before it could be voted on by the Rajya Sabha. The BJP included the passage of the CAB as part of its manifesto released ahead of its overwhelming electoral victory in May 2019.

The presence of Indian-American Arunima Bhargava as one of the USCIRF Commissioners is of little solace to New Delhi as she had spoken in favour of lifting all curbs in Kashmir Valley while testifying before the Tom Lantos Commission of the US Congress last month.

Aware of the slippery ground ahead, India has beefed up its lobbying at Capitol Hill by appointing a PR agency specialising in US Government affairs for three months at $ 40,000 per month.

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