The United States and the United Nations on Tuesday expressed concerns about the notification of the rules under the Citizenship Amendment Act, reported Reuters.

The Citizenship Amendment Act is aimed to provide a fast track to citizenship to refugees from six minority religious communities, except Muslims, from Bangladesh, Afghanistan and Pakistan, on the condition that they have lived in India for six years and have entered the country by December 31, 2014.

On Monday, Union Home Minister Amit Shah said that with the rules being notified, the Narendra Modi-led government has “realised the promise of the makers of our constitution to the Hindus, Sikhs, Buddhists, Jains, Parsis and Christians living in those countries”.

A spokesperson of the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights told Reuters on Tuesday that the organisation is concerned that the Citizenship Amendment Act “is fundamentally discriminatory in nature and in breach of India's international human rights obligations”.

The spokesperson said they were studying whether the rules comply with international human rights law.

The United States State Department also said it was concerned about the notification of rules and is monitoring “how this Act will be implemented”.

"Respect for religious freedom and equal treatment under the law for all communities are fundamental democratic principles," a state department spokesperson told Reuters in an email.

Criticism of Act

The Citizenship Amendment Act, passed by Parliament in December 2019, has been widely criticised for excluding Muslims. It had sparked massive protests across the country in 2019 and 2020.

Indian Muslims fear that the law could be used, along with the nationwide National Register of Citizens, to harass and disenfranchise them. The National Register of Citizens is a proposed exercise to identify undocumented immigrants.

While protests against the Act in the rest of India have revolved around the law’s alleged anti-Muslim bias, ethnic groups in Assam and the rest of the North East fear they will be physically and culturally swamped by migrants from Bangladesh.

Several Opposition leaders in the country have also criticised the Act, saying that it discriminates against Muslims.

On February 12, the Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam-led Tamil Nadu government said that it will never allow the Citizenship (Amendment) Act to be implemented in the state.

The state government said that while the ideal of unity in diversity faces a grave threat in the country, the state administration is committed to ensuring communal harmony.

West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee, too, said that the Act would not be implemented in the state. Banerjee criticised the Bharatiya Janata Party for raising the issue ahead of the Lok Sabha elections.

All India Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen president Asaduddin Owaisi said on Monday that his objections to the law remains the same and calling it divisive and based on ideology that wants to “reduce Muslims to second-class citizens”.

“Give asylum to anyone who is persecuted but citizenship must not be based on religion or nationality,” the Lok Sabha MP from Hyderabad said in a tweet. “The government should explain why it kept these rules pending for five years and why it’s implementing it now.”

He said that the law clubbed with the National Register of Citizens is meant to only target Muslims and serves no other purpose.