European Parliament defers voting on CAA till March

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BRUSSELS: The European Parliament has deferred voting on a resolution against India’s Citizenship Amendment Act, scheduled for Thursday till March. that two people familiar with the matter termed as a “diplomatic victory” for New Delhi. Coincidently, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s upcoming visit to Brussels in March for the 15th India-EU Summit.

The voting in the Parliament was scheduled for Thursday on a five-page resolution. The resolution alleged that the CAA is not only “discriminatory” and “dangerously divisive” but also a “violation of India’s international obligations under the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights”.

The Indian sources termed the development a diplomatic victory for India and friends of India prevailed over friends of Pakistan in the European Parliament today,” government sources said. A Pakistan-origin British Member of European Parliament (MEP) Shaffaq Mohammed is reportedly behind the draft resolution against the CAA. The sources said that hisefforts to get the resolution passed were “defeated”.

The amended Citizenship Act grants citizenship to Hindus, Sikhs, Jains, Parsis, Buddhists and Christians fleeing religious persecution from Pakistan, Afghanistan, and Bangladesh and who came to India on or before December 31, 2014.

The Parliament was expected to vote on a final joint resolution on the Citizenship Amendment Act, put forward by some 560 of its 751 members from five different groups, on grounds that it is discriminatory against Muslims and violates India’s international obligations, news reports said. The resolution also expressed concern over the National Register of Citizens – an exercise aimed at identifying illegal immigrants – marking a dangerous shift in the way citizenship will be determined in India, thereby creating a large-scale crisis of statelessness and causing immense human suffering, the news reports said.

“We expect that our perspective in this matter will be understood by all objective and fair-minded members,” one of the two people cited above said. The Citizenship Amendment Act is “a matter internal to India” that has been adopted through a democratic process, the person said.

The European Parliament’s move to vote on the resolution was opposed by India, which had earlier said that “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.”

Although European Parliament resolutions do not affect the decisions of the European Council or European Commission, the timing of its passage could have been awkward given that Prime Minister Narendra Modi is scheduled to visit Brussels in March for an India-European Union summit.

Two Indian-origin MEPs, Dinesh Dhamija and Neena Gill, were among a host of members who spoke up in India’s favour to point out elements of “disinformation” around the CAA and the NRC within the parliamentary motion.

Thierry Mariani, a French MEP, alluded to the “hand of Pakistan” in the motion being tabled, while others condemned it as meddling in another country’s internal affairs.

Pakistan-origin MEP Shaffaq Mohammed and others such as S&D’s John Howarth and VERTS/ALE’s Scott Ainslie described the CAA as a “highly discriminatory” legislation and alleged that the EU had crumbled in the face of India’s diplomatic lobby and prioritised trade and business interests over human rights concerns by postponing a vote on the motion.