The European Parliament at its plenary session in Brussels, Belgium, on Wednesday debated a joint motion combining several resolutions criticising India’s Citizenship Amendment Act, PTI reported on Thursday. However, the Parliament postponed a vote on the motion till March. The European Parliament is the legislative arm of the European Union.
Five of the six resolutions, passed by different parties in the European Parliament, had been highly critical of India’s new citizenship law. Several of these resolutions had warned that the Citizenship Amendment Act will create a huge “statelessness crisis” in India.
European Commission Vice President and High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Helena Dalli opened the debate, speaking about the “rich, frank and open relationship” the European Union shares with India. She highlighted Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s upcoming visit to Brussels in March for the 15th summit between the European Union and India.
“We believe that it is the role of the Supreme Court of India to assess the compliance of the law with the Constitution, and we are confident that the ongoing judicial process will contribute to appeasing the tensions and violence witnessed over the past weeks in the country,” Dalli said. She said the European Union must “pursue and intensify” dialogue with India as a “respected democracy”.
Two Indian-origin MEPs, Dinesh Dhamija and Neena Gill, claimed that disinformation had been spread about the Citizenship Amendment Act and the National Register of Citizens within the parliamentary motion. Thierry Mariani, a French MEP, alleged that Pakistan had a hand in the motion being tabled.
Pakistani-origin MEP Shaffaq Mohammed and others like S&D group’s John Howarth and VERTS/ALE’s Scott Ainslie, on the other hand, described the amended Citizenship Act as a “highly discriminatory legislation”. They alleged that the European Union had crumbled in the face of the Indian lobby and prioritised trade deals with the country over human rights concerns, by postponing the vote to March.
India called the vote being postponed a “diplomatic victory”, and blamed Pakistan, and in particular British MEP Shaffaq Mohammad, for bringing the motion, The Hindu reported citing sources in the government. “CAA is a matter internal to India and has been adopted through a due process through democratic means,” the unidentified officials said. “We expect that our perspectives in this matter will be understood by all objective and fair-minded MEPs.”
The Citizenship Amendment Act provides citizenship to refugees from six minority religious communities from Bangladesh, Afghanistan and Pakistan, provided they have lived in India for six years and entered the country by December 31, 2014. The Act has been widely criticised for excluding Muslims. Twenty-six people died in last month’s protests against the law – all in the BJP-ruled states of Uttar Pradesh, Karnataka, and Assam.