MHA invites citizenship applications for non-Muslim refugees

NEW DELHI: The Centre on Friday invited non-Muslims like Hindus, Sikhs, Jains and Buddhists belonging to Afghanistan, Bangladesh and Pakistan and residing in 13 districts of Gujarat, Rajasthan, Chhattisgarh, Haryana and Punjab to apply for Indian citizenship.

The Union home ministry issued a notification in this effect for immediate implementation of the order under the Citizenship Act 1955 and Rules framed under the law in 2009.

The fresh order is no way connected to the Citizenship Amendment Act enacted in 2019.

The Rules under the CAA are yet to be framed by the government.

When the CAA was enacted in 2019, there were widespread protests in different parts of the country and even riots took place in Delhi in early 2020 in the wake of these protests.

According to the CAA, Indian citizenship will be given to non-Muslim persecuted minorities from Bangladesh, Pakistan and Afghanistan — Hindu, Sikh, Jain, Buddhist, Parsi and Christian — who had come to India till December 31, 2014.

“In exercise of powers conferred under Section 16 of the Citizenship Act, 1955 (57 of 1955), the central government hereby directs that powers exercisable by it for registration as citizen of India under Section 5, or for grant of certificate of naturalisation under section 6 of the Citizenship Act 1955 in respect of any person belonging to minority community in Afghanistan, Bangladesh and Pakistan namely, Hindus, Sikhs, Buddhists, Jains, Parsis and Christians, residing in the districts mentioned and the states mentioned below…,” the notification said.

People who are eligible to apply for Indian citizenship are those currently living in the districts of Morbi, Rajkot, Patan and Vadodara of Gujarat, Durg and Balodabazar in Chhattisgarh, Jalore, Udaipur, Pali, Barmer and Sirohi in Rajasthan, Faridabad in Haryana and Jalandhar in Punjab.

“The application for registration as citizen of India or grant of certificate of naturalisation as citizen of India under the said rules (Citizenship Rules, 2009) shall be made by the applicant online,” the notification said.

The home ministry said the verification of the application is done simultaneously by collector or secretary (Home) of Haryana and Punjab as the case may be, at the district-level and the state-level and the application and the reports thereon shall be made accessible simultaneously to the Centre on online portal.

The collector or the secretary, as the case may be, makes such inquiry as he considers necessary for ascertaining the suitability of the applicant and for that purpose forwards the application online to such agencies for verification and comments as may be required for completing such an inquiry and the instructions issued by the Centre from time-to-time in this regard shall be strictly complied with by state or union territory and district concerned, it said.

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