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Citizenship Amendment Act: MEA clarifies on Afghan minorities

Raveesh Kumar. File

Raveesh Kumar. File   | Photo Credit: Reuters

The present government of Afghanistan has “substantially” addressed the security needs of the religious communities of the country, said an official of the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) on Thursday. The clarification was made days after Home Minister Amit Shah argued in favour of the Citizenship (Amendment) Act, 2019 citing persecution of the religious minorities in Afghanistan, Bangladesh and Pakistan.

 

“We are also aware that the current government has substantially addressed the concerns of the minority communities as per their constitutional provisions,” said MEA spokesperson Raveesh Kumar. Following the Home Minister’s arguments in favour of the Act, Afghan envoy Tahir Qadiry had said “all groups and ethnicities” had suffered because of the war that has been raging in the country for the past four decades.

Specific instances

The Indian spokesperson elaborated on the comments of Mr. Shah and cited specific instances of persecution that had taken place in Afghanistan during the Taliban years. “We did not say that religious persecution is taking place under the present government of Afghanistan. What we have said and that was explained by our Home Minister as well is that during the previous Mujahideen and Taliban regimes, religious minorities were deliberately victimised. In 2001, Taliban issued a call to these people either to convert to Islam or leave the country,” said Mr Kumar. The statement added to the background of the ongoing India visit of Afghan National Security Adviser Hamdullah Mohib. This visit coincided with a visit by an Afghan Sikh delegation that met BJP leaders here on Thursday.

 

It is understood that there has been some concern in the diplomatic circles of India regarding a firmer response from Afghanistan, as Bangladesh cancelled a two ministerial meetings immediately after the Indian Home Minister cited the country during his Parliament debates. The Hindu had reported that Dhaka failed to send a delegation for the Joint River Commission meeting for Wednesday which set off speculations about the status of Indo-Bangladesh bilateral ties.

Ties with Dhaka

The spokesperson however maintained that the meetings were being rescheduled and said, “We enjoy an excellent relationship with Bangladesh and both countries are keen to further deepen our partnership in the future. I don’t think much should be read in some of the isolated incidents of rescheduling of meetings.”

 

The spokesperson maintained that Pakistan continues to persecute religious minorities and urged Islamabad to look inward.

Mr. Kumar maintained that India has reached out to the international community and also to international organisations explaining India’s decision to pass the Citizenship Amendment Act. “Our democracy and other institutions in the country are well equipped to deal with any differences of opinion in a peaceful manner. I do not think any external agency has any locus standi to comment on a matter which is completely internal to India,” he said in response to a comment by UNICEF’s Executive Director Henrietta Fore, who had noted that struggle for equality all over the world is leading to the loss of freedom for the children and women.

“Many of these protests have left young protesters behind bars, injured and at times killed. Schools have been shut and public services interrupted,” said the UNICEF chief, taking note of struggle for fairer world.

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Printable version | Aug 7, 2020 4:23:51 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/mea-clarifies-on-afghan-minorities/article30352279.ece

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