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'Seattle is leading the way': US city passes resolution against India's CAA and NRC

Seattle becomes first US city to condemn India's Citizenship Amendment Act and National Register of Citizens, which have been denounced as 'discriminatory'
In December, the Indian government passed the CAA and excluded Muslims from obtaining citizenship (AFP/File photo)

One of the most powerful city councils in the United States has passed a resolution condemning India's recently-enacted Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) and its planned National Register of Citizens (NRC).

The resolution passed unanimously at Seattle City Council on Monday, making it the first US city to pass legislation against India's actions, which rights groups have denounced as discriminatory towards Muslims by favouring non-Muslim immigration.

The measure states that "the Seattle City Council opposes the National Register of Citizens and the Citizenship Amendment Act in India, and finds these policies to be discriminatory to Muslims, oppressed castes, women, indigenous, and LGBT people".

The bill was introduced by Kshama Sawant, an Indian American City Council member.

'We are glad that Seattle is leading the way on this'

- Equality Labs, South Asian rights group

In December, the Indian government passed the CAA, which makes faith a basis for attaining Indian citizenship.

The Indian government said that the law makes it easier for people from non-Muslim minorities in Afghanistan, Bangladesh and Pakistan who settled in India prior to 2015 to get Indian citizenship.

Rights groups, however, have argued that the exclusion of Muslims violates India's secular constitution by making religion a basis for citizenship.

India is home to about 14 percent of the world's population of Muslims.

"The burden of proving that you're a resident or a citizen now lies on the citizens, when it should be the other way around," Soumya Shankar, a professor of journalism at Stony Brook University, said at a congressional briefing last month on the CAA.

'Seattle is leading the way'

India also is planning to implement a pan-India citizenship registry called the NRC.

Nearly two million people were excluded from a similar registry the Indian government implemented in the northeastern state of Assam last year.

They have been asked to prove their citizenship in quasi-legal tribunals or risk being declared a foreigner and stripped of their rights - including the ability to cast their vote.

Monday's action was welcomed by rights groups across the US.

As members of India's ruling party cited Donald Trump's Muslim ban as a justification for their targeting of Muslims, "Americans have a unique responsibility to stand up and speak about this human rights crisis", Equality Labs, a South Asian human rights group in the US, said in a statement.

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"We are glad that Seattle is leading the way on this."

Ahsan Khan, president of Indian American Muslim Council, said that decision "should be a message to all who wish to undermine pluralism and religious freedom".

"They cannot peddle in hate and bigotry, and expect to have international acceptability at the same time," Khan said in a statement.

Since the enactment of the CAA, dozens of Indian Muslims have been killed by police firing into crowds of unarmed anti-CAA protestors.

The administration of India's most populous state, Uttar Pradesh, under Prime Minister Narendra Modi's Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) party, had also violently cracked down on students at the Aligarh Muslim University.

The Indian government also banned protests and cut the internet in parts of the nation's capital Delhi and throughout the states of Uttar Pradesh and Karnataka.