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World full of examples on fast-tracking citizenships: Jaishankar
3/17/2024 10:22:49 PM

NEW DELHI, Mar 17:

Amid criticism of the Citizenship (Amendment) Act (CAA) from the US and other parts of the globe, External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar has said it is important to put it in the context of the Partition, and underlined that there are a “number of examples” in which many countries have fast-tracked citizenship.
During an interaction at the India Today Conclave 2024 on Saturday, he also responded to questions on an Indian national, facing charges in a murder-for-hire plot to kill a Khalistani separatist on American soil and US Ambassador Eric Garcetti’s remarks a day earlier on its impact on US-India ties.
“You keep using India and Canada seamlessly, I would draw a line there, for a variety of reasons. Most notably that all said and done, American politics has not given that kind of space to violent extremist views and activities which Canada has done. So, I don’t think it’s fair to the US, to lump them together. I would distinguish between the two,” Jaishankar said.
The relations between India and Canada saw bitterness last year over allegations linked with the killing of Khalistani separatist and designated terrorist Hardeep Singh Nijjar in June in the Canadian city of Surrey. India denied the allegation as “absurd and motivated”.
Jaishankar also responded to criticisms surrounding the CAA from Washington and other parts of the world.
The US on Thursday said it is concerned about the notification of CAA in India and is closely monitoring its implementation.
“Look, I am not questioning the imperfections or otherwise of their democracy or their principles or lack of it. I am questioning their understanding of our history. If you hear comments from many parts of the world, it is as if the Partition of India never happened, there were no consequential problems which the CAA is supposed to address,” Jaishankar said.
So, if you take a problem and “remove all the historical context from it, sanitise it and make it into a political correctness” argument, and say, ‘I have principles and don’t you have principles’, “I have principles too, and one of them is obligation to people who were let down at the time of Partition. And, I think, the Home Minister spoke very eloquently on it yesterday”, he added.
Garcetti in response to a question on CAA during a panel discussion at the conclave on Friday, had said the principles of religious freedom and of equality under the law is a cornerstone of democracy.
“And, that is why we look at these things, it will be easier not to look at our friends. We invite you to do the same with our imperfect democracy, it is not a one-way street. But, you cannot give up on principles, no matter how close you are with friends…,” he had said.
Jaishankar while responding to the criticism on CAA, also cited a “number of examples” to make his point.
He said he has a problem when people don’t hold up a mirror to their own policies, as he cited Jackson-Vanik amendment, which was about Jews from Soviet Union, the Lautenberg Amendment, Specter Amendment and “fast-tracking of Hungarians after the Hungarian revolution, fast-tracking of Cubans in 1960s”.
“So, if you were to ask me, have other countries, other democracies, fast-tracked on the basis of ethnicity, faith, social attributes, I can give you any number of examples,” the minister said.
He sought to put the context of the 1947 Partition which cleaved the Indian subcontinent into two independent nations India and Pakistan, and led to a massive bloodshed resulting in large-scale migrations across the border.
“Now, if I were to also say, after all why is the situation important, because very often when you have something very cataclysmic, something really very major, it is not possible to deal with all the consequences right then and there.
“The leadership of this country had promised to these minorties, that if you have a problem, you are welcome to come to India. The leadership thereafter didn’t deliver on the promise,” he added.
Jaishankar said it is “not just our predicament. If you look at Europe, many European countries fast-tracked citizenship of people who were left behind on the World War or in some cases much before the World War Some historical issues which were not addressed…I have a moral obligation to that community”.
“So, the world is full of examples, and to me the context therefore is very important,” the minister said.
On the upcoming US elections, the Union minister said, “we are prepared for whatever happens”.
“We have actually built a very extensive culture of engaging and sort of maintaining relationships…Well before the 2016 November results, we had already reached out to the Trump campaign at a high level. Because, that is the way it would be. It wouldn’t be hypothetically tomorrow,” he said.
Because the US-India relationship is “very important” and that is the only way one can get a grip on that relationship, the minister said.
On the issue of the Indian national, facing charge for a murder-for-hire plot to kill a Khalistani separatist on American soil, he also shared how India is dealing with it.
“Yes, the US has shared with us some information, some of this in the public domain, some of it is not. And, our interest is to also look into it, because, to us there seems to be a very strong organised crime aspect to it which also impinges on our own security.
“So, when we were apprised of this information, we decided to set up a very high-power committee of competent people to look into it and that is an ongoing issue right now,” Jaishankar said.
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