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Sanctions against Amit Shah over CAB: Rajnath Singh, Jaishankar may take up issue in Washington DC

Defence minister Rajnath Singh and external affairs minister S Jaishankar are expected to discuss the issue during their scheduled visit to the US next week for the 2+2 initiative, whose agenda has been frozen. The high-level diplomatic effort also comes amid attempts of US representatives to rake up the Kashmir issue in Congress.

, ET Bureau|
Dec 11, 2019, 08.06 AM IST
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ANI
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Union Home Minister Amit Shah speaks at Lok Sabha during the winter session.
NEW DELHI: India is bracing for a diplomatic challenge in Washington after a federal US Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) asked the US administration to impose sanctions against home minister Amit Shah if Parliament passes the Citizenship Amendment Bill.

Defence minister Rajnath Singh and external affairs minister S Jaishankar are expected to discuss the issue during their scheduled visit to the US next week for the 2+2 initiative, whose agenda has been frozen. The high-level diplomatic effort also comes amid attempts of US representatives to rake up the Kashmir issue in Congress.

India rejected a statement by USCIRF that called for sanctions against Shah and “other principal leadership” and said the “body has chosen to be guided only by its prejudices and biases on a matter on which it clearly has little knowledge and no locus standi”. The commission chaired by Republican Tony Perkins said CAB “enshrines a pathway to citizenship for immigrants that specifically excludes Muslims, setting a legal criterion for citizenship based on religion”. There is cause for concern as the Democrat chaired House Committee on Foreign Affairs too offered critical comments against CAB. “Religious pluralism is central to the foundations of both India and the United States and is one of our core shared values. Any religious test for citizenship undermines this most basic democratic tenet,” a tweet by the committee read. The USCIRF, which has a history of raising issues of religious freedom in India, was more direct in its comments, saying that it is troubled by the legislation and that it marks a “dangerous turn in the wrong direction”.

“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,” a statement released by the body reads. The external affairs ministry rebutted the statement saying that it was not based on facts and the bill was to grant citizenship to persecuted religious minorities who arrived in India and does not aim to strip citizenship. “CAB does not affect the existing avenues available to all communities interested in seeking citizenship from doing so. Neither the CAB nor the National Register of Citizens process seeks to strip citizenship from any Indian citizen of any faith,” the MEA statement read.

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