NEW DELHI, 10 Feb: The rules for implementing the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) will be issued before the coming Lok Sabha polls and the process to grant Indian nationality to the beneficiaries will start soon after, union Home Minister Amit Shah said here on Saturday.
Under the CAA, the Modi government wants to grant Indian nationality to persecuted non-Muslim migrants – Hindus, Sikhs, Jains, Buddhists, Parsis and Christians – from Bangladesh, Pakistan and Afghanistan who had come to India till 31 December, 2014.
“The CAA is a law of the country and its notification will definitely be issued. It will be issued before the polls. The CAA will be implemented before the elections. No one should have any confusion about it,” Shah said at the ET NOW Global Business Summit-2024.
He said that granting Indian citizenship to persecuted minorities of the neighbouring countries was a promise of the Congress leadership too.
“When the partition happened – Hindus, Buddhists, Christians – all wanted to come to India after facing religious persecution there. They (Congress leaders) had promised to give citizenship to these people, saying all of you are welcome. But the (Congress) leaders
went back on their word,” Shah said.
The home minister said that he wants to make it clear that the CAA is not a law to snatch anyone’s citizenship.
“Our Muslim brothers are being instigated on the issue of CAA. CAA can’t snatch anyone’s citizenship as the law does not have that provision. CAA has been enacted to give citizenship to those people who have come from Bangladesh and Pakistan after facing religious persecution. No one should oppose this law,” he said.
There were massive protests in some parts of the country after the CAA was passed by Parliament in December 2019 and got the presidential assent.
Delayed by over four years, the rules for the CAA are a must for its implementation. Officials said that the rules are ready and the online portal is also in place as the entire process will be online.
The applicants will have to declare the year when they entered India without travel documents. No document will be sought from the applicants.
According to the law, the benefits under the CAA will be given to the undocumented minorities from the three countries.
The promise of implementing the controversial CAA was a major poll plank of the BJP in the last Lok Sabha and assembly polls in West Bengal.
The saffron party’s leaders consider it a plausible factor that led to the rise of the BJP in Bengal.
According to the Manual on Parliamentary Work, the rules for any legislation should have been framed within six months of presidential assent or seek an extension from the Committees on Subordinate Legislation in the Lok Sabha and the Rajya Sabha.
Since 2020, the home ministry has been taking extensions at regular intervals from the parliamentary committee for framing the rules.
Over a hundred people lost their lives during the protests or in police action after the parliament passed the CAA.
Meanwhile, in the last two years, over 30 district magistrates and home secretaries of nine states have been given powers to grant Indian citizenship to Hindus, Sikhs, Buddhists, Jains, Parsis and Christians coming from Afghanistan, Bangladesh and Pakistan under the Citizenship Act, 1955.
According to the annual report of the home affairs ministry for 2021-’22, from 1 April, 2021, to 31 December, 2021, a total of 1,414 foreigners belonging to these non-Muslim minority communities from Pakistan, Bangladesh and Afghanistan were given Indian citizenship by registration or naturalisation under the Citizenship Act, 1955.
The nine states where Indian citizenship by registration or naturalisation is given under the Citizenship Act, 1955 to non-Muslim minorities from Pakistan, Bangladesh and Afghanistan are Gujarat, Rajasthan, Chhattisgarh, Haryana, Punjab, Madhya Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh, Delhi and Maharashtra.
Interestingly, authorities in none of the districts of Assam and West Bengal, where the issue is politically very sensitive, have been given the powers so far. (PTI)