• Friday, July 01, 2022

Comment

Peers express concern over deadly Indian citizenship protests

(Photo: BIJU BORO/AFP via Getty Images).

By: Radhakrishna N S

MEMBERS of the House of Lords have called for representations by the UK government to their counterparts in India as they expressed concerns around minority rights during a debate last Tuesday (25) over the impact of India’s Citizenship (Amendment) Act (CAA).

Crossbench peer John Montagu called on the British government to urge India’s prime minister Narendra Modi to conduct a review of the CAA and its impact following protests in the country.

The British government said it was “closely monitoring” the situation as the act has “clearly been divisive in India” and added that there were “some concerns” over its full impact.

“Ongoing protests against the Act across India leave no doubt that this legislation is divisive. I know that people in this country – including in this House as has been made clear today – feel strongly about it. For our part, the UK government has concerns about the impact of the legislation,” said Baroness Liz Sugg, the parliamentary under-secretary of state in the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO).

Lord Montagu recounted his own time spent in India and called for an assessment of the CAA’s impact on Asian citizens in the UK.

“The Citizenship (Amendment) Act 2019, which passed through the Lok Sabha in December, granted an amnesty to illegal immigrants from three neighbouring countries – Pakistan, Afghanistan and Bangladesh – but not to Muslims from those countries,” Lord Montagu said.

“The regular migration of families between our two countries suggests that there is more sensitivity to discrimination than ever within our Asian minorities. This hits the Muslim community hardest.”

Lord Meghnad Desai said the reactions to the act reflect a “conjectural fear” because neither the act nor the proposed National Register of Citizens (NRC) have been implemented.

“It is said that the act is unconstitutional, but we do not know that yet because the Supreme Court of India has not yet heard on that issue… People are saying that the CAA has been passed for no other reason than to let the Hindus with dubious papers to go through but not anyone else. This has not yet happened – it is a conjectural fear,” said Lord Desai.

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