US lawmaker Ami Bera expresses concern over CAA, Kashmir
Days ahead of US President Donald Trump’s visit to India, an influential Indian-American lawmaker said it is important for India to retain its standing as a secular democracy that sets it apart from other countries in the region.
Referring to the Indian government’s revocation of Jammu and Kashmir’s special status last year and the controversial Citizenship (Amendment) Act (CAA), congressman Ami Bera said democratic institutions around the world are being tested even as there was “push back on some of this”.
Bera, a four-time Democratic Party lawmaker and chair of the subcommittee on Asia, the Pacific, and non-proliferation, told a small group of reporters: “Indian citizens are the ones that ultimately will control the outcome of where India heads...We can offer that what we admire about India...is it’s vibrant secular democracy and we would hate to see India lose or tarnish any of that reputation.”
He added, “We don’t want to see India lose that secular democracy, that’s what sets it apart from other countries in the region. That’s what makes it such a valuable partner with the US as we look at extending democratic values across the world.”
George Holding, the Republican co-chair of the India Caucus, and Bera were on a two-day visit to India to demonstrate bipartisan support for the bilateral relationship and to discuss key issues such as the situation in Afghanistan and maritime security with Indian interlocutors. Foreign secretary Harsh Shringla was among the officials they met.
Bera described the protests against the CAA as “democracy in action”. The tools of democracy in India “remain vibrant” and the country has an independent judiciary “which seems to be ruling on the constitutionality of some of these issues”, he said.
He added that is Democratic Party lawmakers were more critical about India, it was because “we really care about India, we care about that secular democracy and those values”. India derives its strength from a secular democracy where more than 800 million Hindus live side by side with 200 million Muslims and other minorities, he said.