WASHINGTON: The US is "closely following" the developments after India amended its citizenship law, a senior official has said as Washington urged New Delhi to protect the rights of its religious minorities in keeping with the country's Constitution and democratic values.
The contentious Citizenship (Amendment) Bill was passed by the Lok Sabha on Monday while the Rajya Sabha cleared it on Wednesday.
The newly amended law which provides for granting citizenship to non-Muslim persecuted minorities from Bangladesh, Pakistan and Afghanistan.
"We are closely following developments regarding the Citizenship Amendment Bill. Respect for religious freedom and equal treatment under the law are fundamental principles of our two democracies," a State Department spokesperson said on Thursday.
"The US urges India to protect the rights of its religious minorities in keeping with India's Constitution and democratic values," the spokesperson said.
The Ministry of External Affairs in New Delhi has said the new law provides expedited consideration for Indian citizenship to persecuted religious minorities already in India from certain contiguous countries.
It asserted that every nation has the right to enumerate and validate its citizenry and to exercise the prerogative through various policies.
Assam, Tripura, Meghalaya and parts of Arunachal Pradesh have been witnessing large-scale protests in the last two days with thousands of people hitting the streets defying prohibitory orders to demand scrapping of the contentious law.
At least two persons died due to bullet injuries on Thursday after police opened fire on protesters in Guwahati, capital of Assam.