New Delhi: India has little to worry if the European Parliament passes the six draft resolutions on Citizenship Amendment Act and Kashmir by putting them to vote. Actions taken by the independent body are “not legally binding”, multiple sources told ThePrint.
The Strasbourg-based European Parliament is an independent body and resolutions passed by it are only “handed over to the European Commission” for its consideration, a diplomatic source said.
The source also said it is entirely the decision of the European Commission whether or not to take the resolutions seriously.
Meanwhile, according to sources in the government, India has already activated diplomatic channels to ensure the European Commission does not act on it, and urged a comprehensive dialogue on the issues of Citizenship Amendment Act and Kashmir.
As many as six draft resolutions have been tabled as part of the European Parliament’s debate on the CAA. Most of them are critical of the new citizenship law, while some also criticise the implementation of the National Register of Citizens (NRC) in Assam and the situation in Kashmir.
All six resolutions will be debated at the European Parliament Plenary in Brussels on 29 January. If the plenary decides so, the resolutions will be put to vote on 30 January.
India concerned due to ‘optics factor’
According to the official sources quoted above, while India is aware that any resolution passed in the European Parliament would not be legally binding, it is concerned “due to the optics factor”.
The move comes weeks after the Indian government conducted a guided tour of 23 members, mostly right wing, of the European Parliament.
“India will continue to engage with whoever wants to engage with us on matters related to Kashmir or CAA, but what conclusions they draw afterwards is not something we can control or want to control,” a high-ranking Indian official told ThePrint.
A French diplomatic source, meanwhile reiterated that CAA is India’s “internal matter”.
“The Citizenship Amendment Act is India’s internal political matter. We have stated this on several occasions. The European Parliament is an institution independent of Member States and the European Commission,” said the source, a founding member of the European Union, who did not wish to be named.
Earlier this month, India also took a group of 15 envoys to Jammu and Kashmir. While the group included US Ambassador to India Kenneth Juster, envoys from European countries declined to participate as they are keen on making a “surprise visit” rather than a planned one to assess the “real situation”.
“We want to have meaningful conversations when we visit Kashmir. We do not want the visit to be shrouded in secrecy. We should be able to have a say in the agenda and not be guided completely by the Indian government,” an envoy from one of the EU countries told ThePrint.
Resolutions call CAA ‘discriminatory’
Another top EU official said the European Union has already raised concerns over the broad contours of the Citizenship Amendment Act. The new law seeks to give expedited citizenship to Hindus, Sikhs, Buddhists, Jains, Parsis and Christians who fled religious persecution in Afghanistan, Bangladesh and Pakistan and arrived in India before 31 December 2014. The law does not apply to Muslims.
The draft resolutions tabled before the European Parliament have termed the Act “discriminatory”. They also said the CAA “does not make reference to the other countries that border India, particularly Bhutan, Myanmar, Nepal and Sri Lanka, excluding minorities such as the Sri Lankan Tamils, who currently form the largest refugee group in India, and the Rohingya from Myanmar, who, according to the UN, are the world’s most persecuted minority”.
The European Parliament is one of the seven institutions of the EU. But in matters related to foreign policy and security, the EU’s ultimate decision-making body is the European Council — which comprises the heads of state or government of all EU countries.
The European Parliament is made up of 751 members elected by the 28 member states of the enlarged European Union.