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MHA clarifies on citizenship to migrants from three nations

Protesters holds placards and shout slogans in Ahmedabad, on December 15, 2019.

Protesters holds placards and shout slogans in Ahmedabad, on December 15, 2019.   | Photo Credit: AP

Ministry issues advisory to States and UTs, asking them to take all steps to check violence and ensure the safety of life and properties

The Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) on Monday said no migrant from the six non-Muslim communities from Afghanistan, Pakistan and Bangladesh “will become Indian citizen automatically.” A migrant should apply online and the competent authority would see whether he or she fulfiled all the qualifications for registration or naturalisation as Indian citizen, a senior MHA official said.

 

On Monday, at an election rally in Jharkhand, Home Minister Amit Shah appealed to students and youth to read the Citizenship Amendment Act, 2019 (CAA) and not fall in the trap of Opposition parties.

“The CAA is to give citizenship to religiously persecuted refugees, it is not to take away citizenship of any Indian. Some parties are spreading rumours and inciting violence for their political interest. I request students to go through the CAA once and not fall in their trap,” Mr. Shah tweeted a video of his speech.

Strong protests

Strong protests led by student groups in colleges and universities in various parts of the country have been reported against the CAA that allows citizenship on basis of religion to undocumented non-Muslim communities the three countries.

The MHA on Monday issued an advisory to all the States and Union Territories (UTs) asking them to take all possible steps to check violence and ensure the safety of life and properties. It also requested them to take action against circulation of fake news and rumours on social media having the potential to incite violence.

The Act was passed by Parliament last week and proposes to grant any “persecuted” minorities from these three countries who entered on or before December 31, 2014.

MHA clarifies on citizenship to migrants from three nations
 

There are apprehensions that the Act, followed by a country-wide National Register of Citizens (NRC), will benefit non-Muslims, while excluded Muslims will have to prove their citizenship.

The Centre would soon frame rules to operationalise the provisions of the Act. “The CAA does not target any religious community from abroad. It only provides a mechanism for some migrants who may otherwise have been called ‘illegal’ depriving them of opportunity to apply for Indian citizenship provided they meet certain conditions,” the official said.

The official explained that The Citizenship Act, 1955, which was amended last week, provides that Indian citizenship could be acquired by birth, descent, registration, naturalisation or by incorporation of territory.

“Any foreigner on becoming eligible can acquire citizenship by registration or by naturalisation irrespective of his country or his community. The CAA enables migrants/foreigners of six minority communities from three specified countries who have come to India because of persecution on grounds of their religion to apply for Indian citizenship. It does not amend any existing legal provision which enables any foreigner of any class, creed, religion, category etc to apply for Indian citizenship through registration or naturalisation modes. Such a foreigner has to become eligible to apply for citizenship after fulfilling the minimum legal requirements,” the official said.

“The CAA does not apply to Indian citizens and they are completely unaffected by it,” the official said. In the last six years, 2830 Pakistani citizens, 912 Afghani citizens and 172 Bangladeshi citizens were given Indian citizenship and “hundreds of them are from majority community of these three countries.” The three countries are Muslim dominated.

“Such migrants continue to get Indian citizenship and shall also continue to get it if they fulfil the eligibility conditions already provided in the law for registration or naturalisation. About 14,864 Bangladeshi nationals were also granted Indian citizenship after incorporating more than fifty enclaves of Bangladesh into Indian territory post the boundary agreement between the two countries in 2014,” the official said.

The appropriate rules were amended in 2015-16 and the Centre had legalised the entry as well as stay of such foreign migrants belonging to the six communities entered India on or before December, 2014 due to persecution on grounds of religion, the official said. “The Government of India had made such migrants also eligible for grant of Long Term Visa (LTV) to stay in India for a long time. The CAA now enables them to take Indian citizenship if they fulfil conditions/qualifications for such citizenship, provided they migrated from these three countries before December 31, 2014.”

Citizenship to Tamils of Indian origin

The official said that 4.61 lakh Tamils of Indian origin were given Indian citizenship from 1964-2008 after the signing of bilateral agreements in 1964 and 1974. Presently, about 95,000 Sri Lankan refugees were living in Tamil Nadu. “They are being given rations, doles and other facilities by the Central and the State governments. They could apply for Indian citizenship as and when they become eligible to do so.”

In 1962-78, more than two lakh Burmese of Indian origin fled from then Burma after many trades and businesses were nationalised there and properties of such Indians were forcibly taken by the State. They were settled in various parts of India, the official pointed out.

“The CAA protects the interests of the tribal and indigenous people of the northeastern region by excluding areas under Sixth Schedule of the Constitution and areas covered by Inner line Permit system. Such migrants living in these areas will not be able to apply for Indian citizen. So, there is no question of any influx of foreigners swamping the indigenous population,” the official added.

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Printable version | Feb 18, 2020 12:43:19 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/mha-clarifies-on-citizenship-to-migrants-from-3-nations/article30322679.ece

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