New Delhi: The US on Thursday said that it was monitoring the situation in various Indian states in the wake of the passage of the contentious Citizenship Amendment Bill (CAB) in the Parliament, and urged the government to protect the rights of the religious minorities in keeping with the Constitution and democratic values.
The CAB, which is now officially a law after President Ram Nath Kovind’s assent, has triggered violent protests in three states-Assam, Meghalaya and Tripura-of the northeast.
Speaking to media, a spokesperson of the Department of State said, “We are closely following developments regarding the Citizenship Amendment Bill. Respect for religious freedom and equal treatment under the law are fundamental principles of our two democracies.”
The Bill aims to grant Indian citizenship to religious minorities-Hindus, Christians, Buddhists, Sikhs, Jains and Parsis-from Afghanistan, Pakistan and Bangladesh, who came to India before December 31, 2014, to escape religious persecution in their respective native countries. The most controversial aspect of the CAB, however, is the exclusion of Muslims from the list of minorities.
However, the three aforementioned states in the northeast are up in arms against it as they believe that the Bill would lead to a massive influx of refugees into these states from Bangladesh, leading to them becoming minorities in their own land.
The four remaining states of the region are exempt from the CAB as they fall under the Inner Line Permit (ILP). While Arunachal Pradesh, Mizoram and Nagaland were already under the ambit of the ILP, Manipur was included on it on Wednesday, the day the Bill was passed by the Rajya Sabha, and thus, the Parliament.