NATIONAL

We briefed nations on CAA, says govt.

The Union government pursued a rigorous “two-pronged” strategy on conveying its explanation on the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) controversy in India, the External Affairs Ministry said on Thursday, stressing that the Act merely speeds up citizenship applications for communities mentioned in it and is not seeking to change the Constitution.

Responding to reports that foreign diplomats in India were unhappy with the lack of communication from the government on the issues that have set off protests in various parts of the country, the Ministry said the reports were “factually incorrect”.

“We did reach out to countries across regions, and wrote to all our missions and posts asking them to share our perspectives with host governments [on CAA and NRC],” Ministry spokesperson Raveesh Kumar told journalists, adding that this was done in addition to meeting diplomats in Delhi.

The government’s brief mentioned that the CAA was an internal process, which did not seek to strip any community members of citizenship. Nor did the CAA alter the basic structure of the Constitution, Mr. Kumar said.

“We asked [the embassies] to convey that the Act provides expedited consideration for Indian citizenship to persecuted minorities already in India, from Pakistan, Afghanistan and Bangladesh. It doesn’t affect the existing avenues already available to other communities,” he said.

Call with Hasina

Mr. Kumar declined to comment on whether Prime Minister Narendra Modi had discussed the issue with his Bangladesh counterpart Sheikh Hasina when he greeted her on New Year’s day.

A release said the two leaders discussed how to further strengthen bilateral ties. Bangladesh Deputy Foreign Minister Shahriar Alam, who cancelled his visit to Delhi in December ostensibly over the passage of the CAA at the time, is expected to attend the Ministry’s annual Raisina Dialogue from January 14 to 16. Ten Foreign Ministers are attending the Dialogue, which will be addressed by Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison.

The Ministry spokesperson said India had expressed strong concern to the Malaysian chargé d’affaires about what he called Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Muhammad’s “ill-advised and avoidable” comments on the CAA, and the government has spoken to other members of the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC). Dismissing reports that the OIC plans a special meet on Kashmir and the CAA in Pakistan, he said they were “speculative” at present.