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India has reacted with strong words to the remarks made by Pakistan regarding the Citizens Amendment Bill (now almost a law) about 24 hours after Pakistan’s Prime Minister Imran Khan and Foreign Office critiqued the legislation. This is unlike the case of USCIRF, to which the reaction was pretty prompt.

Ministry of External Affairs spokesman Raveesh Kumar said that there was no need for us to react to every statement of from Pakistan. Kumar said that most of the statements made by Pakistan’s Prime Minister Imran Khan were inappropriate. “I don’t think we need to respond to every unwarranted and gratuitous comment made by Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan on our internal affairs. Such comments cannot absolve Pakistan of the blatant persecution of the religious minorities which flows, including from the discrimination imbibed in its Constitution, the draconian blasphemy laws. He should rather pay attention to the condition of minorities in Pakistan than comment on internal matters of India,” he said.

The Foreign Ministry spokesman has responded also to Bangladesh Foreign Minister AK Abdul Momen cancellation of India visit, but this response was measured and reconciliatory. Kumar said India had never asserted that there was religious persecution in Bangladesh under the Shiekh Hasina government. Momen had said, “whoever gave them (Indian government) the information, it is not correct”.

“There seems to be some confusion. We have explained that religious persecution is not happening under the present government in Bangladesh. Migrants who have sought refuge in India from Bangladesh have faced persecution and abuse on religious grounds during the military rule and also under the previous government in Bangladesh,” Kumar said. “We have also acknowledged and we are aware that the present government in Bangladesh has taken several steps to address the concerns of minorities living there as per their Constitutional provisions,” he added.

After the Lok Sabha the day before yesterday, the Citizenship Amendment Bill was passed in the Rajya Sabha yesterday. While tension and strife have gripped some areas of the Northeast, with flights and trains to Assam cancelled, curfew imposed in some places of Assam as well as Agartala and internet services suspended wherever there are violent demonstrations, hundreds of Pakistani Hindu refugees in Rajasthan and Delhi celebrated the new law, which would legitimise their lives in India.

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