CAA gets rolling, first set of 14 people granted citizenship


PTI, May 15, 2024, 8:30 PM IST

The first set of citizenship certificates under the Citizenship (Amendment) Act was issued Wednesday here to 14 people, nearly two months after rules under the contentious law were notified to grant Indian nationality to persecuted non-Muslim migrants from three neighbouring countries.

Sources said 14 people were handed over the certificates symbolically at a special function held here while digitally signed certificates are also being sent to a ”few hundred” other applicants through email.

Union Home Minister Amit Shah termed it a ”historic day”, saying the decades-long wait of those who faced religious persecution in Pakistan, Bangladesh and Afghanistan is over.

Home Secretary Ajay Kumar Bhalla handed over the certificates to the 14 people after their applications were processed online through a designated portal, an official spokesperson said.

This comes in the midst of the general elections which started on April 19. The last phase of polling will be held on June 1 while the counting will take place on June 4.

The CAA was enacted in December 2019 for granting Indian nationality to persecuted Hindu, Sikh, Jain, Buddhist, Parsi and Christian migrants from Bangladesh, Pakistan and Afghanistan who came to India on or before December 31, 2014.

After the enactment, the CAA got the president’s assent but the rules under which the Indian citizenship was granted were issued on March 11 after over a delay of four years.

”It is a great feeling to be an Indian. It has given a new life to me,” 24-year-old Bharat Kumar, who had come from Sindh in Pakistan 11 years ago, told PTI minutes after he received the citizenship certificate.

Shah said the Hindu, Sikh, Buddhist, Jain, Parsi and Christian brothers and sisters who fled religious persecution in the three countries have started getting Indian citizenship and Prime Minister Narendra Modi has fulfilled the promise made at the time of the country’s independence.

”I express my gratitude to Modiji for giving justice and rights to these people who suffered for decades. I also assure all my refugee brothers and sisters that the Modi government will give citizenship to all of them through the CAA,” he said on X in Hindi. ”Modi’s guarantee…the guarantee of fulfilling promises.” While granting the citizenship certificates, the home secretary congratulated the 14 applicants and highlighted the salient features of the Citizenship (Amendment) Rules, 2024.

Secretary Posts, Director of the Intelligence Bureau, Registrar General of India and senior officers were also present during the interactive session when the certificates were issued.

The CAA rules envisage the manner of application form, procedure for processing applications by the District Level Committee (DLC), scrutiny and grant of citizenship by State Level Empowered Committee (SLEC).

”In pursuance of these rules, applications have been received from persons belonging to Hindu, Sikh, Jain, Buddhist, Parsi and Christian communities from Pakistan, Bangladesh and Afghanistan who have entered into India up to December 31, 2014 on account of persecution on grounds of religion or fear of such persecution,” the spokesperson said.

The DLCs chaired by Senior Superintendents of Post or Superintendents of Post as designated officers, on successful verification of documents, have administered the oath of allegiance to the applicants.

After processing as per rules, the DLCs have forwarded the applications to SLEC headed by Director (Census Operation). Processing of application is completely done through the online portal.

The empowered committee, Delhi, headed by Director (Census Operation), Delhi, after due scrutiny, has decided to grant citizenship to 14 applicants. Accordingly, Director (Census operation) granted certificates to these applicants, the spokesperson said.

The passing of the CAA in 2019 sparked protests in different parts of the country with agitators terming it ”discriminatory”. Over a hundred people lost their lives during the anti-CAA protests or police action in various parts of the country.

Shah has been maintaining that no one can stop the implementation of the CAA as it is the law of the land. He accused opposition of misleading the people on the issue.

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