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Implementation of the CAA Begins, First Set of 14 Certificates Handed over by Bhalla

Implementation of the CAA Begins, First Set of 14 Certificates Handed over by Bhalla

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Manas Dasgupta

NEW DELHI, May 15: The Centre on Wednesday launched the implementation of the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) granting citizenship certificate to over 300 people while the first set of 14 certificates were personally handed over by the union home secretary Ajay Kumar Bhalla to the recipients in New Delhi.

The process to grant Indian nationality to the persecuted non-Muslim migrants from Pakistan, Afghanistan and Bangladesh was initiated about two months after the Centre issued the necessary notification in this regard in March. The country of origin of the applicants in the first set of citizenship certificates was not immediately known but the official sources said most of them were migrants were Hindus from Pakistan.

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. Mr Bhalla while handing over the certificates 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 first set of citizenship certificates after notification of Citizenship (Amendment) Rules, 2024 were issued today. Union Home Secretary Shri Ajay Kumar Bhalla handed over citizenship certificates to some applicants in New Delhi today. The Home Secretary congratulated the applicants and highlighted salient features of the Citizenship (Amendment) Rules, 2024. Secretary Posts, Director (IB), Registrar General of India and senior officers were also present during the interactive session,” the home ministry said in a statement on Wednesday.

The ministry said in its statement that the authorities have been receiving applications from people belonging to Hindu, Sikh, Jain, Buddhist, Parsi and Christian communities from Pakistan, Bangladesh and Afghanistan, who were persecuted on religious grounds and entered India by December 31, 2014. It further said the DLCs, which were chaired by designated officers, have administered oath of allegiance to the applicants after verification of documents.

“After processing as per rules, DLCs have forwarded the applications to the State Level Empowered Committee headed by the Director (Census operation). Processing of applications is completely done through the online portal The Empowered Committee, Delhi headed by Director (Census Operation), Delhi, after due scrutiny, have decided to grant citizenship to 14 applicants,” the central government added.

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 Opposition leaders, including West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee and Kerala chief minister Pinarayi Vijayan have vowed that they would not implement the law in their respective states. The Prime Minister Narendra Modi and the union home minister Amit Shah on the other hand, have promised that the law will be implemented across the country.

The Opposition claims CAA discriminates against Muslims and is unconstitutional. The BJP accuses the Opposition of misleading the Muslims for vote bank politics, saying that the law was not aimed at snatching away their citizenship.

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 denied this and said the law was 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 Union Ministry of Home Affairs had said adding the Citizenship Act did not deal with the deportation of illegal immigrants.

On March 11, a few days before the announcement of the General Elections, the union ministry of home affairs had notified the Citizenship Amendment Rules 2024 that enabled the implementation of CAA, more than four years after the legislation was passed by Parliament in December 2019. The Citizenship Act, 1955 was amended to facilitate citizenship through registration and naturalisation under Section 6B, CAA to undocumented migrants belonging to six non-Muslim communities — Hindu, Sikh, Buddhist, Jain, Parsi or Christian — from Afghanistan, Bangladesh and Pakistan, who entered India on or before December 31, 2014, and reduced the period to qualify for citizenship from the existing requirement of continuous stay of 11 years to 5 years.

The Rules grant the final authority to accord citizenship to an empowered committee headed by Director, Census Operations while the scrutiny of applications filed online on indiancitizenshiponline.nic.in was done by a district level committee (DLC) headed by postal department officials. On successful verification of documents, the DLCs administered the oath of allegiance to the applicants. The portal is said to have received more than 25,000 applications so far.


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