The Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA), on May 29, issued a notice allowing any person belonging to minority communities of Afghanistan, Bangladesh and Pakistan – namely Hindus, Sikhs, Buddhists, Jain, Parsis and Christians – residing in 13 districts of Chhattisgarh, Gujarat, Haryana, Rajasthan and Punjab to apply for Indian citizenship.
The Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) was cleared by Parliament in late 2019. Protests, some of which were violent, had erupted across the country against the new law. According to the amended citizenship law, members of Hindu, Sikh, Buddhist, Jain, Parsi and Christian communities who came from Pakistan, Bangladesh and Afghanistan till December 31, 2014 and facing religious persecution there will not be treated as illegal immigrants and will be eligible for Indian citizenship. The law excludes Muslims.
The Home Ministry has not notified the CAA rules so far. More details are awaited.
Those opposing the amended law say it discriminates on the basis of religion and violates the Constitution. They also allege that the CAA, along with the proposed pan-India National Register of Citizens (NRC), is intended to target India’s Muslim community.However, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)-led central government has dismissed the allegations, maintaining that the law is intended to give citizenship to the persecuted people from the three neighbouring countries and not take away citizenship from anyone.