File photo: Amit Shah

A US religious freedom commission has called for sanctions against Indian Home Minister Amit Shah if the controversial Citizenship (Amendment) Bill (CAB) is passed, claiming that the proposed legislation introduces a religious test for citizenship.

The Assam Kaziranga University admissions

The US Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) said in a statement in New York on Monday that it was “deeply troubled” by the draft legislation which passed in the Lok Sabha on Monday midnight after division of votes with 311 in its favour and 80 against it.

“If the CAB passes in both Houses of Parliament, the US government should consider sanctions against the home minister and other principal leadership,” the USCIRF said.

The government body does not have the power to sanction anyone or any government but can make recommendations that can be followed up.

The USCIRF said: “The CAB 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.

“In conjunction with the ongoing National Register of Citizens (NRC) process in Assam and nationwide NRC that the Home Minister seeks to propose, the USCIRF fears that the Indian government is creating a religious test for Indian citizenship that would strip citizenship from millions of Muslims.”

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Shah has stated categorically that “the bill does not affect the Muslims residing in this country. The Muslims residing here will not face any problem. They live with dignity and will live with the same dignity.”

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