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US Religious Freedom Commission Seeks Sanctions On Indian Leaders

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The U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) has expressed serious concern over Indian parliament's passing of the Citizenship Amendment Bill (CAB), terming it as a "dangerous turn in the wrong direction".

The Lok Sabha, the lower house of parliament, passed the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill with a 311-80 vote Monday.

The Bill will become law if it is passed by the Rajya Sabha, the Upper House.

The federal commission urged the U.S. Government to impose sanctions against India's Home Minister Amit Shah, who introduced the Bill, and other principal Indian leadership if the bill with the "religious criterion" is passed by both houses.

The Bill seeks to provide Indian citizenship to non-Muslim refugees from Pakistan, Bangladesh and Afghanistan who migrated to the country before five years fleeing religious persecution.

USCIRF alleged that the legislation enshrines a pathway to citizenship for immigrants that specifically excludes Muslims, setting a legal criterion for citizenship based on religion.

"The CAB is a dangerous turn in the wrong direction; it runs counter to India's rich history of secular pluralism and the Indian Constitution, which guarantees equality before the law regardless of faith," it said in a statement.

The Commission also expressed fear that the Indian government is creating a religious test for Indian citizenship that would strip citizenship from millions of Muslims, taking into consideration the ongoing National Register of Citizens (NRC) process in Assam and nationwide NRC that the Home Minister seeks to propose.

The U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom is an independent, bipartisan federal government entity established by the Congress to monitor, analyze and report on threats to religious freedom abroad.

Recommendations of the USCIRF are seriously considered by the U.S. State Department, which has the power to impose sanctions against foreign governments and individuals for violation of religious freedom and human rights.

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