The Strasbourg-based European Parliament is an independent body and one of the seven institutions of the EU but its resolutions not legally binding on the country but the European Commission reflection on any such resolution does makes a huge splash.
Nonetheless, if any such resolutions of European Parliament go through the motion of European Commission and any action is taken in this regard, it is a matter of shame for Indian as nation and will definitely reflect upon the government that has taken over the reins of the country and sitting in judgment to guide the destiny of this great nation.
Earlier in January India also took a group of 15 envoys to Jammu and Kashmir. 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” in Kashmir.
The current government which is in spot for its acts of omission and commission has engaged its high level officials to do the damage control exercise and build the government’s positive image before European Union. Indian ‘Babus’ have issued statement first condemning members of European Parliament as it is meddling into the India’s internal affairs.
India has activated diplomatic channels to ensure the European Commission does not take any action on the resolutions and the matter get past smoothly. This is because in matters related to foreign policy and security, the EU’s ultimate decision-making body is the European Commission, which comprises the heads of state or government of all EU countries.
Meanwhile, the resolutions tabled before the European Parliament has termed India’s Citizen Amendment Act as “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”.
Most of the resolutions taken up by the Members of the European Parliament are scathingly critical of the CAA, while some also criticize the implementation of the National Register of Citizens (NRC) in Assam and about the security of the people in Jammu and Kashmir and takes into account lockdown and detention of politicians and youths in the restive valley.
The most critical is the resolution moved by the S&D Group, the second largest group with 154 MEPs, which states the CAA has the potential to “create the largest statelessness crisis in the world”. The resolution by the EPP Group, the largest group with 182 MEPs say, the law could have negative consequences for “India’s international image and internal stability”.
Even the resolutions are not binding on the European Commission; they can increase pressure on the Indian government at a time when the country is grappling with strong criticism from Western powers, including key European Union (EU) members such as Germany of its handling of the situation in Kashmir, the citizenship law and the NRC implementation in Assam.
The EU has already expressed concern about the situation in Kashmir and a visit to the region by envoys of EU countries is currently being discussed by the EU mission in New Delhi and the external affairs ministry.
To counter European Parliament resolutions Indian officials have issued statements that the CAA is an “entirely internal” matter of India and that the law was adopted by due process and through democratic means in Parliament. The officials has also called on the sponsors and supporters of the resolutions to engage with the Indian government to get a “full and accurate assessment of the facts before they proceed further”.
This matter is coming up in the European Parliament at a crucial time because the Indian Prime Minister is expected to visit Brussels for the India-EU Summit on March 13. This itinerary has made one of the groups of member of European Parliament to suggest in its resolution that the CAA should be raised during Indian Prime Minister’s visit to EU Summit.
The EU is India’s largest trading partner, accounting for 92 billion euros worth of trade in goods in 2018 or 12.9% of total Indian trade, and also a key source of inward FDI, which was worth 5 billion euros in 2014. The EU is also the leading destination for Indian exports – almost 18% of the total value.
International worry of India is not going to end with pacifying the European Commission or European Union. In April 2020, Organization of Islamic Conference is holding a special meeting on situation in Kashmir, CAA, NPA and NCR all affecting the Muslim population in India.
The OIC is also to counter the Indian argument of “internal matter” by rebutting it as a matter of ‘Umma’. It can say that the OIC is duty bound to protect persecuted Muslims anywhere in the world and take action against the haters of Islam.
Well we may like it or not, the action of the current government has set the cat among the pigeon. Its actions like abrogation of article 370 in Muslim majority state of Jammu and Kashmir, one sided judgment on the Babari Masjid dispute, the Citizenship Amendment Act, the National People’s Register, and the National Citizen Register all has stirred a hornet’s nest.
Whatever may be the outcome of this unfolding drama, one thing that is positive about it is the way common Indian are united in the country. This is unprecedented since the days of freedom struggle of India and is heartwarming as it is a moment of reckoning in India.
Syed Ali Mujtaba is a journalist based in Chennai. He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org