Govt. notifies rules on granting citizenship

The Union Home Ministry has empowered the Collectors of certain districts in seven States to accept online applications to grant citizenship to “persecuted minorities” from Pakistan, Afghanistan and Bangladesh living in India.

A parliamentary committee has been examining the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill, 2016, which proposes to grant citizenship to six persecuted minorities: Hindus, Jains, Sikhs, Parsis, Christians and Buddhists who came to India from Pakistan, Afghanistan and Bangladesh before 2014.

As the Bill is pending, the Home Ministry gave powers to the Collectors in Chhattisgarh, Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Rajasthan, Uttar Pradesh and Delhi to grant citizenship and naturalisation certificates to the migrants under Sections 5 and 6 of the Citizenship Act, 1955. No such power has been delegated to Assam officials.

Under the new rules, notified on October 24, the migrants can apply online, and the verification reports or the security clearance reports of the applicants shall be made available to the Centre through an online portal.

Citizenship will be granted after the verification reports are received from the States and the Centre.

“The Collector or the Secretary shall maintain an online/digital as well as physical register, containing the details of persons so registered or naturalised as a citizen of India and furnish a copy thereof to the Central government within seven days of registration,” the notification said.

Since 2011, 30,000 such Pakistanis have been granted long-term visas, a precursor to citizenship, and 1,500 applications are now pending.

The online system, which will come into effect on December 22, was put in place after a Home Ministry official was arrested in July by the Rajasthan Anti-Corruption Bureau for allegedly extorting money from Pakistani Hindu migrants for extension of visas, visa transfer and grant of citizenship.

Officials put the number of such migrants in India at two lakh. There are 400 Pakistani Hindu refugee settlements in Jodhpur, Jaisalmer, Bikaner and Jaipur. Hindu migrants from Bangladesh mostly live in West Bengal and northeastern States.

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Printable version | Mar 7, 2021 9:13:16 AM |

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