WASHINGTON - The United States Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) has proposed sanctions against Indian Home Minister Amit Shah and other top Indian leaders after the country’s lower house passed a controversial citizenship deal.

Widespread protests are being held on the streets in India against the bill saying it has discriminated against Muslims and violated India’s once secular constitution.

Shah introduced the Citizenship Amendment Bill (CAB) in India’s lower house amid raucous debate. Opposition parties stood against the proposed law that would, for the first time, create a legal pathway to grant Indian nationality on the basis of religion.

 “The USCIRF is deeply troubled by the passage of the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill (CAB), originally introduced by Home Minister Amit Shah, in the Lok Sabha given the religion criterion in the bill.

The CAB will now move to Rajya Sabha. If the CAB passes in both houses of parliament, the United States government should consider sanctions against the Home Minister and other principal leadership,” says USCIRF in its statement.

“The CAB enshrines a pathway to citizenship for immigrants that specifically excludes Muslims, setting a legal criterion for citizenship based on religion. The CAB is a dangerous turn in the wrong direction; it runs counter to India’s rich history of secular pluralism and the Indian Constitution, which guarantees equality before the law regardless of faith.”

USCIRF also expressed fear that the Indian government has created a religious test for Indian citizenship that would strip citizenship from millions of Muslims. The statement continues, “In conjunction with the ongoing National Register of Citizens (NRC) process in Assam and nationwide NRC that the [Indian] Home Minister seeks to propose.”