14 People Given Citizenship Certificates For The First Time Under CAA

The first set of citizenship certificates to 14 people was issued under the Citizenship (Amendment) Act or CAA today, nearly two months after the Centre notified it, initiating the process of granting Indian nationality to persecuted non-Muslim migrants from Pakistan, Afghanistan and Bangladesh.

Under the CAA, the qualification period of citizenship application has been reduced from 11 to 5 years for undocumented non-Muslim migrants from Pakistan, Bangladesh and Afghanistan who came to India before December 31, 2014.

Union Home Secretary Shri Ajay Kumar Bhalla handed over the citizenship certificates to the applicants in Delhi and highlighted salient features of the CAA. Secretary Posts, Director (IB), Registrar General of India and senior officers were also present during the interactive session.

The CAA was enacted in December 2019 to grant Indian nationality to persecuted non-Muslim migrants from Bangladesh, Pakistan and Afghanistan. These include Hindus, Sikhs, Jains, Buddhists, Parsis and Christians. The Act got the president’s assent but the rules under which the Indian citizenship was granted were issued only on March 11 this year after over four years delay. The ruling BJP, which committed to enacting the Citizenship Amendment Bill in its 2019 manifesto, said the implementation was delayed due to the pandemic.

The notification drew sharp criticism from the opposition, which terms the move as discriminatory and motivated by the Lok Sabha elections. The Centre, however, has maintained that the CAA “does not prevent any persecuted Muslim for practising their version of Islam, from applying for Indian citizenship under the existing laws”.

Several parts of the country witnessed protests against the decision to implement CAA as some fear the law could be used to declare them illegal immigrants and take away their Indian citizenship.

The government denies this and says the law is needed to help minorities facing persecution in Muslim-majority nations as per the “evergreen generous culture of India to get Indian citizenship for their happy and prosperous future”.

“No Indian citizen would be asked to produce any document to prove citizenship”, the Ministry of Home Affairs headed by Amit Shah had said, adding the Citizenship Act doesn’t deal with the deportation of illegal immigrants. 

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