India strongly rebuffs U.S. criticism of CAA, calls it ‘misinformed’

The U.S. says it is “closely monitoring” CAA implementation, emphasising religious freedom; India says “lectures by those with limited understanding of India’s pluralistic traditions...are best not attempted”

March 15, 2024 03:45 pm | Updated March 16, 2024 07:59 am IST

MEA Spokesperson Randhir Jaiswal

MEA Spokesperson Randhir Jaiswal | Photo Credit: ANI

The U.S. State Department’s criticism of the controversial Citizenship Amendment Act is “misinformed and unwarranted”, India said on March 15, in a sharp rebuke.

In a weekly press briefing, the Ministry of External Affairs’ spokesperson Randhir Jaiswal argued in support of the inclusive provisions of the Indian constitution and dismissed any concern regarding the Act, describing it as “laudable”.

Also read: Citizenship Amendment Act: Legal issues and status of judicial proceedings | Explained

“The CAA is about giving citizenship, not about taking away citizenship. It addresses the issue of statelessness, provides human dignity, and supports human rights. As regards the U.S. State Department’s statement on the implementation of CAA, we are of the view that it is misplaced, misinformed and unwarranted,” Mr. Jaiswal said.

U.S. monitoring CAA implementation

“We are concerned about the notification of the Citizenship Amendment Act on March 11,” U.S. State Department spokesperson Matthew Miller told reporters during his daily briefing on Thursday. “We are closely monitoring how this Act will be implemented. Respect for religious freedom and equal treatment under the law for all communities are fundamental democratic principles,” Mr. Miller added.

In response, Mr. Jaiswal said: “India’s constitution guarantees freedom of religion to all its citizens. There are no grounds for any concern on treatment of minorities. Vote bank politics should not determine views about a laudable initiative to help those in distress. Lectures by those who have a limited understanding of India’s pluralistic traditions and the region’s post-Partition history are best not attempted.”

Watch | All about Citizenship Amendment Rules, 2024

Muslims excluded

The CAA was passed in the Parliament on December 11, 2019 and received assent from the President of India the next day. The law, aimed at granting citizenship to persecuted religious minorities from Pakistan, Bangladesh and Afghanistan except Muslims, was greeted with widespread protests in many parts of India, including in Assam and Delhi. The CAA does not mention the reason for the exclusion of Muslims from the list of communities, but mentions that “the constitutions of Pakistan, Afghanistan and Bangladesh provide for a specific state religion.”

The law did not come into force during the subsequent four years and two months until the CAA Rules were notified this week, on March 11. 

Reiterating the details of the CAA, Mr. Jaiswal said, “The Citizenship Amendment Act, 2019 (CAA) is an internal matter of India and is in keeping with India’s inclusive traditions and our long-standing commitment to human rights. The Act grants a safe haven to persecuted minorities belonging to Hindu, Sikh, Buddhist, Jain, Parsi and Christian communities from Afghanistan, Pakistan and Bangladesh who have entered India on or before 31st December 2014.”

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