CAA rules: Applicants to be asked to submit proof of religion too

Deeptiman Tiwary
citizenship law, amit shah, home ministry, proof of religion, identity proof, caa, caa protests, caa news, indian express

Union Home Minister Amit Shah at an event in support of the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) in Ahmedabad earlier this month. (Expres File Photo: Javed Raja)

Under the rules for the Citizenship (Amendment) Act, currently being drafted by the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA), besides proving that they came to India from Pakistan, Afghanistan or Bangladesh before December 31, 2014, applicants will also have to submit ‘proof of religion’.

According to a Home Ministry official, this can be done by producing any Indian government document — acquired before December 31, 2014 — in which the applicant has declared his/ her religion as Hindu, Sikh, Christian, Parsi, Jain or Buddhist.

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“For example, if someone has enrolled his/ her children in a government school, he/ she would have declared their religion. If someone has acquired Aadhaar before December 31, 2014 and has declared his/ her religion as being from among the six mentioned in the Act, it would be acceptable... Any form of government document declaring religion will be accepted,” said the official.

The CAA allows immigrants from Pakistan, Bangladesh and Afghanistan to apply for Indian citizenship through the naturalisation process if they are either Hindus, Sikhs, Christians, Parsis, Jains or Buddhists. The legislation grants citizenship on the basis of the assumption that these communities have faced religious persecution in these countries.

The CAA rules are unlikely to ask for evidence of religious persecution, presuming instead that those who came to India either faced persecution or feared they would be persecuted.

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Sources said the MHA has also accepted a demand from Assam that application for citizenship under CAA should be time bound. Assam had asked the MHA to limit the time period to three months, as it felt that keeping it open-ended could further accentuate the apprehensions over CAA in the state.

“The government has agreed to limit the time period, which may be three months or six months from the date of notification of CAA rules. A final decision is yet to be taken, but our concerns have been addressed,” said a BJP leader from Assam.

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The Indian Express had earlier reported that applicants would have to prove that they came from these three countries before December 31, 2014, and the nature of documentary evidence is being discussed.

While the CAA was notified on January 10, its rules are yet to finalised and notified. “We are in the final stages. It will happen soon,” said an official.