Cambridge in Massachusetts state has become the second city in the United States after Seattle to pass a resolution against a controversial citizenship law pushed by Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
The Cambridge City Council on Tuesday passed a unanimous resolution against the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA), calling upon the Indian Parliament to “uphold” the country’s secular constitution by repealing the law and stopping a proposed National Register of Citizens (NRC).
The US city houses the world-renowned Harvard University and Massachusetts Institutes of Technology.
“It has come to the attention of the city council that on December 11, 2019, the Indian Parliament passed the Citizenship Amendment Act, which for the first time uses religion as a criterion for Indian citizenship,” the resolution said.
The CAA fast-tracks Indian nationality for non-Muslim minorities from Muslim-majority Pakistan, Bangladesh and Afghanistan, who came to India before 2015. Critics have said it violates India’s secular constitution and have challenged it in the Supreme Court.
The CAA and NRC have triggered fears among India’s Muslim minority, who form nearly 15 percent of the country’s 1.3 billion population.
The Cambridge resolution declared that “Modi government’s racist and repressive policies” were inconsistent with the values of the city, “which welcomes South Asian communities of all castes and religions”.
The move came a week after Seattle, one of the most powerful city councils in the US, passed a similar resolution, urging India to repeal the CAA and stop the NRC.
The two resolutions came ahead of an upcoming visit of US President Donald Trump to India.
United Nations, and rights groups Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch have expressed concern at the enactment of the CAA.
The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights has termed the law “fundamentally discriminatory in nature”.
The US Commission on International Religious Freedom has called upon the Trump administration to sanction India’s hardline home minister, Amit Shah, who is Modi’s closest aide.
The government of India, however, has repeated on several instances that CAA is its internal matter.