EBM News
EBM News

India bristles as European Parliament decides to debate anti-CAA resolutions

NEW DELHI: New Delhi on Sunday sharply criticised the European Parliament’s decision to debate resolutions against India’s Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA), saying it should not take actions that call into question the rights and authority of democratically elected legislatures.

In all, six draft resolutions have been tabled by groups within the European Union (EU).

While they have a similar theme, some of the resolutions sought to include the hollowing out of Article 370 that gave special status to Jammu and Kashmir.

They are set to be debated in the European Parliament in Brussels next Wednesday and voted on the day after.

India hit back saying the CAA was an internal matter and emphasised that the law was adopted through the democratic process after a full debate in both houses of Parliament.

It also underlined that the new Act is meant to provide citizenship rights, not to deny them to any individual.

The EU Parliament should also not take any action questioning the rights and authority of democratically elected legislatures, government sources said on Sunday, ahead of a debate on a batch of resolutions against India’s new citizenship law by the powerful bloc of 28 nations.

India also hoped that the “sponsors and supporters” of the resolutions will engage with the government to get a full and accurate assessment of facts before they proceed further, the sources said.

The beneficiaries of the new legislation are the oppressed minorities of three neighbouring countries.

The draft resolutions urge India to engage constructively with the anti-CAA protestors and consider their demands to repeal it.

India has been witnessing massive protests against the new law with opposition parties, civil rights groups and activists saying granting citizenship based on religion is against the foundational principle of the Constitution.

Reiterating New Delhi’s stated position, the sources said the CAA was an entirely internal matter of India and that the legislation was adopted through democratic means after a debate in both houses of Parliament.

“Every society that fashions a pathway to naturalisation contemplates both a context and criteria. This is not discrimination. In fact, European societies have followed the same approach,” a government source said, explaining why India is opposed to the resolutions at the EU parliament.

Those who tabled them are the Group of the Progressive Alliance of Socialists and Democrats in the European Parliament (S&D), Group of the European People’s Party (Christian Democrats) (PPE), Group of the Greens/European Free Alliance (Verts/ALE), European Conservatives and Reformists Group (ECR), Renew Europe Group (Renew), and European United Left/Nordic Green Left (GUE/NGL) Group.

The resolutions have a similar theme with a number of them, such as the one tabled by the GUE/NGL Group, also making a reference to the revocation of Article 370 of the Constitution that gave a special status to Jammu and Kashmir.

They are set to be debated in the European Parliament in Brussels next Wednesday and voted the day after.

The resolutions urge the Indian authorities to “engage constructively” with those protesting against the law and consider their demands to repeal the “discriminatory CAA”.

“The CAA marks a dangerous shift in the way citizenship will be determined in India and is set to create the largest statelessness crisis in the world and cause immense human suffering,” according to the GUE/NGL resolution.

“Instead of addressing the concerns, offering corrective action, calling for security forces to act with restraint and ensuring accountability, many government leaders have been engaging in efforts to discredit, rebuke and threaten the protesters,” it stated.

The Indian government has been emphasising that the new law does not deny any citizenship rights, but has been brought to protect the oppressed minorities of neighbouring countries and give them citizenship.

The draft resolutions against the CAA make a reference to the Charter of the United Nations, Article 15 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) as well as the India-EU Strategic Partnership Joint Action Plan signed in November 2005, and to the EU-India Thematic Dialogue on Human Rights as it urges the Indian authorities to “engage constructively” with those protesting against the Act and consider their demands to repeal the “discriminatory CAA”.

“The CAA marks a dangerous shift in the way citizenship will be determined in India and is set to create the largest statelessness crisis in the world and cause immense human suffering,” notes the GUE/NGL draft.

“Instead of addressing the concerns, offering corrective action, calling for security forces to act with restraint and ensuring accountability, many government leaders have been engaging in efforts to discredit, rebuke and threaten the protesters,” the resolution alleges.

As background, the resolution sets out that since the May 2019 election, the government of India has “reinforced its nationalistic orientation” as it also makes a reference to the revocation of Article 370 from Jammu and Kashmir.

The draft resolution, which falls under the category of “Resolutions on topical subjects”, alleges that India has “created the legal grounds to strip millions of Muslims of the fundamental right of equal access to citizenship” and that the CAA could be used, along with the National Register of Citizens, to “render many Muslim citizens stateless”.

It seeks to remind the Indian government of its obligations under the 1992 UN Declaration on the Rights of Persons Belonging to National or Ethnic, Religious and Linguistic Minorities, which establishes the obligation of countries to protect the existence and identity of religious minorities within their territories and to adopt appropriate measures to ensure that this is achieved.

Such a motion, which has been characterised under the “Relations with Asian countries” section by the economic bloc, are used as a basis for engagement of EU member countries with specific nations.

If it is passed next week, it will be formally sent to the Indian government and Parliament as well as to the European Commission chiefs.