Urgent Appeal for Inclusion of Shia Muslims Under India’s Citizenship Amendment Act

His Excellency Taranjit Singh Sandhu

Embassy of India

2107 Massachusetts Avenue,

NW Washington, DC 20008


Dear Ambassador Taranjit Singh Sandhu,

I am reaching out to you on behalf of Shia Rights Watch with a focused appeal concerning the Citizenship (Amendment) Act, 2019 (CAA). This pivotal legislation marks a commendable step by the Government of India to offer refuge and citizenship to persecuted religious minorities from neighboring countries. However, it has come to our attention that Shia Muslims, despite facing severe persecution in Afghanistan and Pakistan, are not explicitly included under the protections offered by this Act. Through this letter, we earnestly request the Indian government to consider amending the CAA to encompass Shia Muslims, thereby providing them with the same opportunity for safety and a new beginning in India.

The situation for Shia Muslims in Afghanistan and Pakistan is dire and worsening. In Afghanistan, for instance, the year 2022 witnessed an appalling attack during the holy month of Muharram, where a suicide bomber targeted a Shia mosque in Kabul, resulting in the loss of 25 innocent lives and injuring over 50 worshippers. Similarly, in early 2023, the abduction and subsequent murder of four Shia Hazara farmers in the province of Balkh starkly illustrated the grave dangers faced by Shias simply for their religious identity. These incidents are not isolated but indicative of a broader, systematic campaign of violence against Shia Muslims, with countless more cases that merit urgent attention.

In Pakistan, the sectarian violence against Shia Muslims continues unabated. The latter part of 2022 saw a tragic attack on a Shia procession in Karachi, where 10 participants were killed, and several were injured. March 2023 brought further sorrow with the targeted killing of a Shia family in the Gilgit-Baltistan region, claiming three lives, including two children. These events are part of a disturbing pattern of targeted attacks and systemic discrimination against Shia communities, underscoring the critical need for immediate intervention and support.

It is imperative to acknowledge that the violence against Shia Muslims in both Afghanistan and Pakistan is systematic and pervasive, with the incidents highlighted here representing only afraction of the widespread persecution they endure. This continuous threat to their safety and fundamental rights calls for an urgent response.

Given the dire circumstances faced by Shia Muslims in these regions, we implore the Government of India to extend the protections of the Citizenship (Amendment) Act, 2019, to include Shia Muslims from Afghanistan and Pakistan. Such an amendment would not only provide much-needed refuge and hope to those fleeing persecution but also reinforce India’s commitment to upholding human rights and religious freedom.

We are prepared to engage in further dialogue and provide any additional information or evidence required to support our request. Your support can provide a crucial lifeline to many Shia Muslims in dire need of protection and a chance for a secure future.

Thank you for considering our heartfelt appeal. We look forward to your support and a positive response, and we are hopeful for the opportunity to collaborate towards ensuring safety and dignity for persecuted Shia Muslims.




Mustafa Akhwand

Executive Director

Shia Rights Watch