No Indian citizen will be asked to produce any document to prove citizenship after CAA: Home Ministry

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People belonging to the Muslim community look on as others hold placards during a protest rally against Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) . File

People belonging to the Muslim community look on as others hold placards during a protest rally against Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) . File
| Photo Credit: AFP

In a bid to allay the fears of Muslims after the rules of the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) were notified a day ago, the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) said on March 12 that “no Indian citizen would be asked to produce any document to prove his citizenship after this Act.”

The MHA, in a press note titled “positive narrative on CAA, 2019”, has answered eight questions regarding its impact on Islam and Muslims.

While responding to a question on the CAA’s impact on Muslims living in India, the MHA says, “Indian Muslims need not worry as the CAA has not made any provision to impact their citizenship and has nothing to do with the present 18 crore Indian Muslims, who have equal rights like their Hindu counterparts. No Indian citizen will be asked to produce any document to prove his citizenship after this Act.”

There are fears and apprehensions that the CAA, which allows citizenship on the basis of religion to six undocumented religious communities from Pakistan, Afghanistan and Bangladesh who entered India on or before December 31, 2014, followed by a countrywide compilation of the National Register of Citizens (NRC), will adversely affect the Muslim community. While the CAA will come to the rescue of non-Muslims excluded from the NRC, the excluded Muslims will have to prove citizenship. As many as 83 persons were killed in protest and riots from December 2019-March 2020 in Assam, Uttar Pradesh, Karnataka, Meghalaya and Delhi after the CAA was passed. The Centre has informed the Parliament that “till now the government has not taken any decision to prepare NRC at national level” and has denied that the CAA and the NRC are linked.

However, according to Citizenship Rules 2003 under the Citizenship Act, 1955, the National Population Register (NPR), that is to be updated along the first phase of Census, is the first step towards compilation of NRC. This rule has neither been amended nor dropped and no new legislation is needed to conduct NPR across the country. Assam is the only State where NRC was compiled on the orders of the Supreme Court and the draft register excluded 19 lakh out of 3.29 crore applicants.

The Ministry stated on Tuesday that the CAA reduces the qualification period for acquiring Indian citizenship from 11 years to five years for the beneficiaries persecuted on religious grounds in Pakistan, Afghanistan and Bangladesh “without curtailing the freedom and opportunity of Indian Muslims to enjoy their rights as they have been usually practising and entertaining since Independence like other Indian citizens belonging to other religions.”

To a question, “Is there any provision or agreement for repatriating illegal Muslim migrants to Bangladesh, Afghanistan and Pakistan?”, the MHA says that “India does not have any pact or agreement with any of these countries to repatriate migrants back to these countries.”

‘Concern unjustifiable’

It added that the CAA doesn’t deal with the deportation of illegal immigrants and therefore the concern of a section of the people, including Muslims and students that the Act is against Muslim minorities is unjustifiable.

The MHA says that the CAA defines illegal migrant as a foreigner who has entered India without valid documents, just like Citizenship Act, 1955.

Regarding “impact of CAA on the image of Islam,” the MHA says, “Due to the persecution of minorities in those three Muslim countries, the name of Islam was badly tarnished all around the world. However, Islam, being a peaceful religion, never preaches or suggests hatred/violence/any persecution on religious ground. This Act showing the compassion and compensation for the persecution, protects Islam from being tarnished in the name of persecution.”

The Ministry says there is no bar on Muslims from anywhere in the world to seek Indian Citizenship under Section 6 of the Citizenship Act, which deals with the citizenship by naturalisation.

The MHA says there is a need to amend the Citizenship Act, 1955 “to show mercy on the persecuted minorities of those three countries.”

“This Act gives opportunity to them as per the evergreen generous culture of India to get Indian Citizenship for their happy and prosperous future. To customise the citizenship system and control the illegal migrants, there was a need of this Act,” the MHA said, adding that in 2016, the Central government also made minorities of the three countries eligible for long term visa to stay in India.

“The CAA does not cancel the naturalisation laws. Therefore, any person including the Muslim migrants from any foreign country, seeking to be an Indian citizen, can apply for the same under the existing laws. This Act does not prevent any Muslim, who is persecuted in those three Islamic countries for practising their version of Islam, from applying for Indian citizenship under the existing laws,” the MHA said.



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