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No voting on EU resolution on CAA on Thursday: Modi government sources

NEW DELHI: The European Parliament has decided not to conduct a vote on Thursday on a resolution against India’s new citizenship law, a move seen as an attempt to not jeopardise Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visit to Brussels in March for a bilateral summit with the 28-member bloc.

The European Parliament on Wednesday decided to take up the voting against the Citizenship Amendment Act during its new session beginning March 2.

Government sources called the deferment of the voting a diplomatic victory, adding that friends of India prevailed over the friends of Pakistan in the European Parliament on Wednesday.

India reached out to almost all countries of the powerful bloc, trying to persuade them against going ahead with the resolution against the CAA.

Sources said the European lawmakers agreed to delay the voting to get a direct perspective from about the CAA from External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar who is scheduled to visit Brussels to prepare the ground for Modi’s visit in mid-March.

The EU lawmakers also wanted to wait for judicial review of the contentious law by India’s Supreme Court.

Diplomatic sources said the vote on the resolution against the CAA may take place between March 30 and 31, but a debate on it will go on as scheduled later on Wednesday.

Six political groups of members of the European Parliament had moved a joint resolution against India’s citizenship law, calling it discriminatory.

“Strenuous efforts of outgoing British MEP (Member of European Parliament) Shaffaq Mohammad to have a resolution passed by the European Parliament against India on the penultimate day before Brexit were defeated,” a source said.

The government has been maintaining that the CAA is a matter internal to India and it was adopted following a due process through democratic means.

The sources said they expect that their perspectives in this matter will be understood by all objective and fair-minded MEPs.

A move by a group of MEPs to totally reject the resolution against the CAA was thwarted at the EU Parliament.

The resolution takes note of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights statement last month, which described the CAA as “fundamentally discriminatory in nature”, and also of other UN as well as the European Union (EU) guidelines on human rights as it calls on the Indian government to “repeal the discriminatory amendments”.

“While the CAA’s stated goal of protecting persecuted groups is welcome, an effective national asylum and refugee policy should be just and holistic in nature and apply to all those in need,” it notes, describing the CAA as “discriminatory in nature and dangerously divisive”.

There is also a reference to the Indian government’s “push” for a nationwide citizenship verification process, the National Register of Citizens (NRC), which it says “aims to strip Muslims of their citizenship rights while protecting those of Hindus and other non-Muslims”.

The new citizenship law passed by Parliament in December 2019 offers citizenship to non-Muslim persecuted religious minorities from Pakistan, Bangladesh and Afghanistan.

India has been witnessing massive protests against the new law, with opposition parties, civil rights groups and activists saying granting citizenship based on religion is against the Constitution’s foundational principle.