Close on the heels of a number of critical international statements and parliamentary resolutions, the government is bracing for six scathing resolutions on both Jammu and Kashmir and the Citizenship (Amendment) Act (CAA), 2019, that have been filed by an overwhelming majority of members in the European Parliament.
These will be taken up for discussion and voting this week.
The Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) declined an official comment on the resolutions, which could have a deep impact on ties between India and the European Union.
“We are informed that some members of the EU Parliament intend to move a draft resolution on the CAA. The CAA is a matter that is entirely internal to India. Moreover, this legislation has been adopted by due process and through democratic means after a public debate in both Houses of Parliament,” sources in the government said.
They added that the government hoped that the sponsors of the draft would engage with New Delhi for an “accurate assessment of the facts before they proceed”.
The draft resolutions (numbering from B9-0077/2020 to B9-0082/2020) are due to be taken up during the plenary session of the European Parliament in Brussels on January 29 for discussion (around 6 p.m. local time) and January 30 for a vote.
The European Commission Vice-President/High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy (HR/VP) Josep Borell will first deliver a statement on “India's Citizenship (Amendment) Act 2019”, the published plenary agenda says. The EU parliament had discussed developments in Jammu and Kashmir in September 2019, but had not ended in a vote. In October 2019 the government had even facilitated a visit by 22 EU MEPs to Delhi and Srinagar, but the effort doesn’t appear to have had the desired effect on the European Parliament.
The current resolutions, each of which is worded slightly differently and focuses mainly on the CAA, will be introduced by six different political groups representing a total of 626 of the total 751 members of the European Parliament (MEPs).
The resolutions list more than a dozen different counts of actions by the government that are allegedly in violation of international norms and India’s international commitments on Human Rights and at the UN Security Council, including actions in Jammu and Kashmir after the dilution of Article 370, police firing on protestors against the CAA in Uttar Pradesh, reports of “torture during detention” and the potential for creating what it calls the “largest statelessness crisis in the world and cause immense human suffering” through the National Register of Citizens (NRC).
Sources said the issues had been discussed when Mr. Borrell met with Prime Minister Narendra Modi and External Affairs Minister S. Jaishankar on the sidelines of the Raisina Dialogue conference earlier this month. The sources indicated that a visit by European Union envoys to Jammu and Kashmir, that has been discussed for several weeks, has now been put off until March this year, after the EU-India summit is held on March 13, but didn’t specify reasons for the delay.
In their recommendations to the European Council and to Mr. Borell, the MEP groups have condemned state actions that have resulted in the loss of life of anti-CAA protesters, and called on the government to lift restrictions in Jammu and Kashmir, reconsider the Citizenship Act, “in the spirit of equality and non-discrimination and in the light of its international obligations”, and to “engage with the protestors”.
At present, the CAA grants a fast track for naturalising only persecuted Hindus, Christians, Sikhs, Jains, Buddhists and Parsis from Pakistan, Afghanistan and Bangladesh, to the exclusion of Muslims, Jews and other minority sects.
“As fellow democracies, the EU Parliament should not take actions that call into question the rights and authority of democratically elected legislatures in other regions of the world. Every society that fashions a pathway to naturalisation, contemplates both a context and criteria. This is not discrimination. In fact, European societies have followed the same approach,” government sources said in response to the resolutions.
The groups filing the resolutions include the largest group in the European Parliament, the Group of the European People's Party (Christian Democrats) (PPE) with 182 members, the Group of the Progressive Alliance of Socialists and Democrats in the European Parliament (S&D) with 154 members, the Renew Group with 108 members, as well as slightly smaller groups like the Greens/European Free Alliance (74), European Conservatives and Reformists (ECR) (66), and the European United Left-Nordic Green Left (GUE/NGL) (41).