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CAA rules may seek ‘proof of religion’

Government documents could be sought from applicants

The Citizenship (Amendment) Act (CAA), 2019, rules are expected to seek “proof of religion” as mentioned in government records, a senior official of the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) said on Monday.

The draft CAA, 2019, rules are likely to seek documents from applicants that they entered India before December 31, 2014 and that they belong to the six religions exempted under the Act.

The Assam government had requested the MHA to impose a three-month time limit to apply under the CAA and not keep it “open-ended”.

“Any of the applicants living in India before 2014 will have some government document or the other where they would have mentioned their religion, they will have to submit this as proof,” said the official.

The CAA has the provision to grant citizenship to members of six undocumented minority communities — Hindu, Sikh, Buddhist, Christian, Jain and Parsi from Pakistan, Afghanistan and Bangladesh who entered India before December 31, 2014. Though the Act does not mention “persecuted minorities”, the term was included in the statement of objects when the Bill was introduced in Parliament.

Many Opposition members had raised objections on means to prove that an applicant indeed was persecuted on religious grounds in the neighbouring countries.

‘No role for States’

The official said the States would have no role in implementation of the CAA, as citizenship was the domain of the Centre. “The only hiccup will come during the verification stage when the role of local police comes into play, even that can be conducted by central agencies,” added the official.

Four State assemblies of West Bengal, Punjab, Kerala and Rajasthan have so far passed resolutions opposing the CAA. Punjab Chief Minister Captain Amarinder Singh had in an open letter on January 3 said the CAA could be misused for infiltration in the country as “any person claiming to be of the six religions could simply apply in terms of the amended law, prove entry on/before the cut off date and be eligible for citizenship.”

An official said all applications under the CAA would have to be made online and the final decision to grant citizenship rested with the MHA.

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