Kolkata / Washington:
In the backdrop of ongoing protests across the country against the amended Citizenship Act, Chinese Consul General to Kolkata, Zha Liyou, on Wednesday said it is an internal matter of India. The problem has to be resolved by India alone, he said. "It's an internal matter of India. We have nothing to say on it. It's your country and you have to resolve your own issues," Liyou told reporters at the sidelines of a programme in Kolkata. India and China share a great relationship, he said. The new Citizenship law, passed in the Parliament last week, has sparked protests in several states across India with protesters demanding its withdrawal.
The amended Citizenship Act seeks to provide citizenship to members of Hindu, Sikh, Buddhist, Jain, Parsi and Christian communities who have entered India till December 31, 2014 following religious persecution in Pakistan, Bangladesh and Afghanistan.
The United Nations' human rights body last week voiced concern over new citizenship law, terming it "fundamentally discriminatory" in nature.
Meanwhile, the United States has said that it honours Indian democracy as they have a robust debate inside the country on the issues like citizenship and religious freedom, a top American diplomat said Wednesday. "We care deeply and always will about protecting minorities and religious rights everywhere. We honour Indian democracy as they have a robust debate on the issue that you raised," Pompeo told reporters at a news conference here at the conclusion of the 2+2 ministerial talks.
Pompeo along with the Defense Secretary Mark Esper on Wednesday hosted their Indian counterparts External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar and Defense Minister Rajnath Singh for the talks. The top American diplomat was responding to a question on the protests by a section of society in India after the passage of the Citizenship Amendment Act, alleging that this is religiously discriminatory in nature.
"Mr Secretary, your State Department has been a very vocal advocate of religious rights around the world. Do you think it appropriate for democracy to use faith as a determining criteria for citizenship," he was asked.
"The question that you asked relating to India, if you had followed the debate on that particular legislation carefully, you would see that it is a measure which is designed to address the needs of persecuted religious minorities from certain countries," Jaishankar said in his response to the question. "If you look at what those countries are and therefore what their minorities are, perhaps you understand why certain religions were identified in terms of characterising those who had come across," Jaishankar said.
Pompeo said the United States has been consistent in the way that it has responded to these issues, not only in India but all across the world.
Officials, so far, has not confirmed or denied if the issue of religious freedom and human rights in India appeared during the 2+2 talks.
In the past, the Secretary of States had raised the issue of human rights and religious freedom with their Indian counterparts in their bilateral meetings.