The Union Home Ministry (MHA) has asked people belonging to non-Muslim communities coming from Pakistan, Afghanistan and Bangladesh to apply for Indian citizenship.
“In exercise of the powers conferred by section 16 of the Citizenship Act, 1955 (57 of 1955), the Central Government hereby directs that powers exercisable by it, for registration as a 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…,” the notification said.
The Government notification issued on Friday evening also empowered district collectors of 13 districts from five states and home secretaries of Punjab and Haryana to grant citizenship to minorities.
The notification said that people living in Morbi, Rajkot, Patan and Vadodara in Gujarat, Durg and Balodabazar in Chhattisgarh, Jalore, Udaipur, Pali, Barmer and Sirohi in Rajasthan, Faridabad in Haryana and Jalandhar in Punjab can apply for citizenship.
“…the collector or the secretary, as the case may be, on being satisfied with the suitability of the applicant, grants him the citizenship of India by registration or naturalisation and issues a certificate of registration or naturalisation, as the case may be, duly printed from online portal and signed by the Collector or the Secretary, as the case may be, in the Form as prescribed in the said rules,” the notification said.
The notification further said that the collector and the secretary shall maintain an online as well as physical register, in accordance with the said rules, containing the details of the person so registered or naturalised as a citizen of India and furnish a copy thereof to the Central Government within seven days of such registration or naturalisation.
The notification issued by the Home Ministry assumes significance given the the fact that the rules of the controversial Citizenship (Amendment) Act, 2019 which was passed in the Parliament on December 11, 2019 is yet to be framed.
Once the CAA rules are implemented, it will open the process for religious minorities from Pakistan, Afghanistan and Bangladesh to apply for Indian citizenship as well for processing and approval of such applications.
Assam and other parts of Northeast have already witnessed huge protests against the CAA.