Updated: January 27, 2020 7:07:16 am
FROM CENTRE-RIGHT to far-left, five key groupings in the European Parliament have moved resolutions that slam the Citizenship (Amendment) Act, with two of them stating that the CAA marks a “dangerous shift” in the way citizenship will be determined and will create the “largest statelessness crisis in the world”.
Taken together, the five groupings comprise 559 members in the 751-member European Parliament. A separate grouping, which represents 66 Members of European Parliament (MEPs), has moved a sixth resolution that supports the Act but calls for an impartial probe into “excessive use of force by security forces” against anti-CAA protesters.
At least one of these resolutions is scheduled to be tabled on January 29, and another on January 30, for debate and voting.
The resolutions, which could impact the way EU member-nations engage with India, come less than two months before Prime Minister Narendra Modi is likely to travel to Brussels for the India-EU summit on March 13.
Reacting to the resolutions, sources in Delhi told The Indian Express that the CAA is a matter “entirely internal” to India. “We hope the sponsors and supporters of the draft will engage with us to get a full and accurate assessment of the facts before they proceed further. As fellow democracies, the EU Parliament should not take actions that call into question the rights and authority of democratically elected legislatures in other regions of the world,” they said.
One of the resolutions, from the centre-right European People’s Party (PPE) Group, which is the largest with 182 MEPs, states that the CAA “is selective and excludes Muslims from provisions provided to other religious groups”. It expresses concern about the “wide range of negative consequences that it might have for India’s international image and internal stability”.
While respecting the Indian government’s attempt to assist persecuted religious minorities from Muslim-dominated neighbours, the EPP resolution states that “creating one set of rules for selected persecuted minorities and another, less favourable set of rules for others will prove counterproductive and may be considered discriminatory”.
It calls on India to “assess the CAA and its consequences in the spirit of equality and non-discrimination and in the light of its international obligations”. It also condemns what it claims is the “violence and brutality” in different parts of India following the adoption of the CAA and notes the “special responsibility of law enforcement services to show restraint and allow peaceful protest”.
In the sharpest attack, the resolution by the second largest grouping — Group of the Progressive Alliance of Socialists and Democrats, or the S&D group — states that the CAA is “explicitly discriminatory in nature”.
It expresses “deep regret over the adoption…of the CAA, which is discriminatory, dangerously divisive and may potentially create the largest statelessness crisis in the world”. The S&D Group is the leading centre-left political group in the European Parliament and comprises 154 MEPs.
This resolution denounces the incorporation of “religious criteria into [India’s] naturalisation and refugee policies” and calls on the government to “ensure that the Foreigners’ Tribunals function with utmost transparency and operate in line with international fair trial standards”.
It also refers to the January 5 violence in JNU and letters by more than 100 retired senior civil servants. The CAA, it claims, has “sparked massive protests against its implementation, with 27 reported deaths, 175 injured and thousands arrested; whereas the Indian authorities have also used internet shutdowns, imposed curfews and placed limits on public transportation to prevent peaceful protests; whereas reports have emerged of hundreds of protesters being beaten, shot, and tortured, in particular in Uttar Pradesh”.
The resolution by the liberal Renew Europe Group states the CAA “is fundamentally discriminatory in nature” and “regrets the fact that India has incorporated religious criteria into its naturalisation and refugee policies”. With 108 MEPs from 22 countries, this is the third largest group in the European Parliament.
Its resolution states that it is “worried that the CCA amendments constitute a dangerous shift in the way citizenship is determined in India, and are set to create the largest statelessness crisis in the world and cause immense human suffering”.
The Verts/ALE Group, (Group of the Greens/European Free Alliance), which is the fourth largest group with 74 MEPs from 16 countries, states in its resolution that the CAA, combined with the NRC “will leave India’s 200 million Muslims with the challenge of proving Indian nationality or becoming stateless”.
Another resolution tabled by the European United Left/Nordic Green Left Group, which is to be debated Wednesday and voted on the day after, echoes the liberal group’s view that “the CAA marks a dangerous shift” and will “create the largest statelessness crisis in the world”. The group has 41 members.
The European Conservatives and Reformists (ECR), which is a Eurosceptic, anti-federalist group with 66 members, is supportive of the CAA. It notes that the Indian government had explained the “rationale behind the amended legislation” and that India, as a sovereign state, is “free to be the sole determinant of its legislation on who can be granted Indian citizenship”.
However, it condemns “any excessive use of force by security forces against demonstrators protesting against the CAA”.
Sources in New Delhi said that the CAA “has been adopted by due process and through democratic means after a public 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,” they said.
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