Centre invites applications for Citizenship

Central Government has invited Hindus, Sikhs, Jains, Buddhists, Parsis and Christians from Afghanistan, Bangladesh and Pakistan to apply for citizenship in India under the controversial Citizenship (Amendment) Act, 2019.

Highlights

Several migrants from Afghanistan, Bangladesh and Pakistan have been residing in 13 districts of Gujarat, Rajasthan, Haryana, Punjab and Chhattisgarh. In this regard, Union Home Ministry has issued notification to implement order under Citizenship Act 1955.

What is Citizenship (Amendment) Act, 2019

The act, passed on December 11, 2019, amended “Citizenship Act, 1955”. It provided ways for persecuted religious minorities from Afghanistan, Bangladesh and Pakistan belonging to Hindus, Sikhs, Buddhists, Jains, Parsis or Christians; to get Indian Citizenship. This is the first law which used religion as criteria for citizenship in India. It has also relaxed “residence requirement” for naturalization for these migrants to 6 years from 12.

Who can apply for citizenship?

Persecuted minorities from three countries who have arrived in India before 31st December 2014. According to data from Intelligence Bureau records, there will be some 30000 immediate beneficiaries.

Why Muslims are not included?

The act does not allow Muslims, belonging to three countries, to take citizenship because, all of them are Muslim-majority countries.

Why this law is being criticized?

It is being criticized for being discriminatory on the ground of religion, for excluding Muslims. Office of United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) also called it “fundamentally discriminatory”.  There is also a concern that act will be used along with National Register of Citizens (NRC) which will render Muslims stateless. Further, Government has neglected that, certain Muslim groups like Hazaras, have historically been persecuted there.

Government’s Stand

Indian government is of the view, Pakistan, Afghanistan and Bangladesh have Islam as their state religion, therefore it is unlikely that Muslims will “face religious persecution” in those countries.

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