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Hindu Groups Respond to US Criticism of Citizenship Amendment Act

© AP Photo / Rajesh Kumar SinghIndian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, arrives to lead the opening of a temple dedicated to Hinduism's Lord Ram in Ayodhya, India, Jan. 22, 2024.
Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, arrives to lead the opening of a temple dedicated to Hinduism's Lord Ram in Ayodhya, India, Jan. 22, 2024. - Sputnik India, 1920, 15.03.2024
The Citizenship Amendment Act seeks to grant Indian citizenship to persecuted minorities- Hindus, Sikhs, Christians, Buddhists, Jains and Parsis- from Afghanistan, Bangladesh and Pakistan who came to India before 31 December, 2014.
Hindu groups in India have lashed out the US after the State Department criticised the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA), which was implemented on 11 March.
Addressing a regular briefing at the State Department, spokesman Matthew Miller expressed concerns over the notification of the CAA, which was a major electoral pledge of Prime Minister Narendra Modi during the 2019 national election.
"We are closely monitoring this act – how this act will be implemented. Respect for religious freedom and equal treatment under the law for all communities are fundamental democratic principles,” Miller told journalists.
Previously, the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) also described the law as "fundamentally discriminatory" for excluding Muslims from its ambit.

Criticism of CAA Reeks of Double Standards

Vinod Bansal, the spokesman of India's top Hindu group Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) told Sputnik India that criticism of the law reeked of double standards on part of those countries and groups which claim to champion the cause of human rights.

"CAA seeks to bolster the human rights of a persecuted set of people. Before pointing fingers at India, these countries and organisations should look at the state of human rights in their own countries," Bansal said.

He stated that those terming the Indian law as "discriminatory" should be viewed as "real supporters of discriminatory practices".

"Opposition to CAA only serves the interests of those involved in persecution of minorities in Afghanistan, Bangladesh and Pakistan," the VHP spokesman said.

Importantly, Bansal reminded that other nations and organisations have "no right to interfere in Bharat’s domestic matters".
Citing population statistics of Bangladesh, Pakistan and Afghanistan, Bansal pointed out that the population of Hindus, Sikhs and other minorities in the three nations has reduced drastically between 1947 and present.
"What problem could someone have if Bharat wants to help the people who came here to escape religious persecution? All these people have already been in India for at least 10 years or more,” the VHP official said.
He stated that critics of CAA should be viewed as being "against India and its values and policies".

"The world should have joined hands in restoring the citizenship, religious and human rights of these persecuted minorities who have been living without a citizenship. But, on the contrary, Bharat’s initiative is being opposed," Bansal noted.

Further, Bansal dismissed speculation by Indian opposition leaders that the new law would lead to an "influx" of migrants from neighbouring countries into India.
"The law is clear that only people from persecuted minorities who came to Bharat before December 31, 2014, could apply for an Indian citizenship," the VHP spokesperson said.
Bansal also sought strict action against politically-motivated statements linking the implementation of the CAA to the proposed National Register of Citizens (NRC).
"There is no official word on an NRC yet. These are misleading and inciteful statements to create divisions in the society," he said.

US Wants to Portray Modi as 'Anti-Muslim': Hindu Sena

Vishnu Gupta, the President of Hindu Sena, told Sputnik India that criticism of the CAA, whether domestically or internationally, was part of a larger effort to portray the Indian Prime Minister as "anti-Muslim".
"This is part of a larger political agenda against us and our Prime Minister," Gupta said.
Gupta echoed VHP's statement that the CAA was an "internal matter" for India. "The US has no right to comment on this," he asserted.

West Doesn't Understand Horrors of Partition, Says BJP Candidate

Dr Anirban Ganguly, a candidate for the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) from West Bengal's Jadavpur seat in the upcoming parliamentary election, told Sputnik India that the western countries, except Germany, had no "history of partition" and so didn’t understand the "effects of history".
"Most of these countries in India's neighbourhood are only denominational republics. They are not secular republics like India has been since Independence. In these nations, people from certain denominations have primacy over others. There is a well-documented history of persecution of Christians, Sikhs and Hindus in Pakistan, Afghanistan and Bangladesh respectively. In Bangladesh, the persecution has somewhat been checked under the government of Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina," said Ganguly, who heads Dr. Syama Prasad Mookerjee Research Foundation (SPMRF), a BJP-affiliated think tank in New Delhi.
Ganguly also pointed out that India's founding fathers, including first Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru and architect of Indian Constitution Dr. BR Ambedkar, had given "assurances" to the minorities of neighbouring nations at the time of Independence that India would "welcome" them if they faced persecution in their home countries.
The BJP candidate added that even Muslims from these nations could apply for an Indian citizenship under already existing laws. "But the CAA is exclusively meant to cater to needs of persecuted minorities," Ganguly added.
Further, the think tanker underlined that the CAA was passed in the Indian parliament in 2019 after an "extensive debate" and all parliamentary and constitutional procedures have been followed in the lead-up to its implementation.

MEA Slams US for Criticism of CAA

India's Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) has also hit out at the US State Department over its remarks on the CAA.

"As regards the US State Department's statement on the implementation of CAA, and there have been comments made by several others. We are of the view that it is misplaced, misinformed and unwarranted," MEA spokesperson Randhir Jaiswal told a regular briefing in New Delhi on Friday.

Jaiswal stated that India's constitution "guarantees freedom of religion to all its citizens".

"There are no grounds for any concern or 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. Partners and well-wishers of India should welcome the intent with which this step has been taken," the MEA spokesperson remarked.

Jaiswal also underscored that the CAA was an "internal matter" for India and was in line with New Delhi's "long-standing commitment to human rights".
"The CAA is about giving citizenship, not about taking away citizenship, so this must be underlined. It addresses the issue of statelessness, provides human dignity, and supports human rights," said the MEA spokesperson.
Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi - Sputnik India, 1920, 12.12.2023
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