A federal US commission on international religious freedom has said that the Citizenship Amendment Bill is a "dangerous turn in wrong direction" and sought American sanctions against Home Minister Amit Shah. The Citizenship (Amendment) Bill, 2019, which seeks to grant citizenship to non-Muslim immigrants from Pakistan, Bangladesh and Afghanistan if they faced religious persecution there, was passed in the Lok Sabha with 311-80 votes on Monday night, after more than seven hours of debate and discussions. The Bill will now be tabled in the Rajya Sabha for its nod.
In a statement issued on Monday, the US Commission for International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) said that it was deeply troubled over the passage of the bill in Lok Sabha.
"If the CAB passes in both houses of parliament, the US government should consider sanctions against the Home Minister Amit Shah and other principal leadership," the commission said.
"USCIRF is 'deeply troubled' by the passage of the CAB, originally introduced by Home Minister Shah, in the Lok Sabha given the religion criterion in the bill," it added.
Shah asserted that the bill has the endorsement of 130 crore Indian citizens and rejected suggestions that the measure is anti-Muslims, saying it will give rights to persecuted minorities from Pakistan, Bangladesh and Afghanistan.
"Citizenship amendment bill has the endorsement of 130 crore citizens of the country as it was the part of the BJP manifesto in 2014 as well as 2019 Lok Sabha elections," he said.
However, the bill has been opposed by the Congress, Trinamool Congress and other Opposition parties.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Monday night expressed delight over the passage of the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill in the Lok Sabha, saying the proposed law is in line with India's centuries old ethos of assimilation and belief in humanitarian values.
"Delighted that the Lok Sabha has passed the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill, 2019 after a rich and extensive debate. I thank the various MPs and parties that supported the Bill. This Bill is in line with India's centuries old ethos of assimilation and belief in humanitarian values," he tweeted.
He said he would like to specially applaud Home Minister Amit Shah for lucidly explaining all aspects of the measure. "He also gave elaborate answers to the various points raised by respective MPs during the discussion in Lok Sabha," Modi said.