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House of Lords debates CAA, riots; peers seek UK’s intervention

Peer John Montagu called on the UK government to urge Prime Minister Narendra Modi to conduct a review of the CAA and its effects on Indian society

House of Lords debates CAA, riots; peers seek UK’s intervention

London: Holding a debate over the impact of India’s Citizenship (Amendment) Act (CAA), the peers in the Upper House of the UK Parliament sought representations by the UK government to counterparts in India over arising concerns around minority rights.

The debate was tabled by crossbench peer John Montagu, the Earl of Sandwich in London on Tuesday evening. He called on the UK government to urge Prime Minister Narendra Modi to conduct a review of the CAA and its effects on Indian society amid the deaths associated with mass protests against the act in the country.

Responding to the debate, the UK government said it has been closely monitoring the situation as the act has “clearly been divisive in India” and there are some concerns over its full impact.

Baroness Liz Sugg, the parliamentary under-secretary of state in the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) is quoted to have said, “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.”

She added: “Its full impact remains unclear. We hope and trust that the government of India will address the concerns and protect the rights of people of all religions, in keeping with India’s Constitution, its democratic values and its inclusive traditions.”

Baroness Liz Sugg assured that UK government would continue to “follow and monitor events closely” and raise any concerns with “close friend and partner” India.

Earl of Sandwich who opened the debate, gave references to his own time spent in India. He also called for an assessment of the CAA’s impact on UK citizens given the strong India-UK relationship.

Montagu pointed out that 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. He added: “Unsurprisingly, there have been riots and protests in New Delhi, Aligarh and all over the country, and not only from the Muslim community.”

Though other Indian-origin peers called the reaction to the Act a “conjectural fear”, another Indian-origin peer Lord Indarjit Singh warned that the new act could offer a legal route to discrimination against Muslims and, ultimately, against all non-Hindus. He said, “I appeal to our own government to work directly, and through the Commonwealth, to add to this positive momentum for tolerance and respect for all people, in a wonderful country”.

Indian-origin peer Lord Indarjit Singh warned that the new act could offer a legal route to discrimination against Muslims and, ultimately, against all non-Hindus

Voicing his concerns over atrocities and violence taking place in India’s capital, Member of the British Parliament Khalid Mahmood called for an official reaction from the UK government. He said, “Delhi has been burning at the hands of Hindu extremism, 24 people are dead so far and hundreds are injured under this extreme violence”.

Drawing the House’s attention towards detention camps, Mahmood said, “The Indian government has enacted this, which has also produced concentration camps where people will be placed who have lived in the country for years.” He further added: “Communal violence is taking place against Muslims, day in and day out so many beatings, torture and deaths taking on the streets, as well as the oppression of the Kashmiri people”.

“Communal violence is taking place against Muslims, day in and day out so many beatings, torture and deaths taking on the streets, as well as the oppression of the Kashmiri people”

Requesting the Leader of the House to have a discussion on the atrocities committed in India Mahmood called for an official statement from the British government regarding the matter.

He was asked by the leader of the House Jacob Rees-Mogg to raise his concerns in next month’s sitting who said that they were not only concerned about Christians but other minorities as well.


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