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Over 300 Hindu Applicants from Pakistan Granted Citizenship Under CAA in New Delhi

Over 300 Hindu Applicants from Pakistan Granted Citizenship Under CAA in New Delhi
Over 300 Hindu Applicants from Pakistan Granted Citizenship Under CAA in New Delhi. Photo: ANI

The central government on Wednesday granted citizenship certificates to more than 300 people who applied under the citizenship Amendment Act (CAA), according to a senior government official.

Among them, at least 14 people were awarded certificates by Union Home Secretary Ajay Kumar Bhalla himself, in the presence of the Director General of Intelligence Bureau and the Registrar General of India.

Although the government did not disclose the origin of the applicants, sources say that most of the individuals who received certificates in Delhi are Pakistani Hindus.

The Hindu spoke with the families who were granted citizenship in Delhi. They mentioned that this was their first time applying for citizenship since arriving in India on a tourist visa in 2013.

Jhoola Ram, a resident of Majnu Ka Tila in north Delhi, told Hindu that a nearby temple priest had signed the eligibility certificate to validate his religion.

One of the required documents to apply under the CAA is an eligibility certificate issued by a “locally reputed community institution.”

Another applicant, Seetal Das, mentioned while speaking with Hindu that a local NGO associated with the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) and Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) had signed the eligibility certificate.

The amendment to the Citizenship Act, 1955, facilitated citizenship through registration and naturalization under Section 6B of the CAA for undocumented migrants belonging to six non-Muslim communities (Hindu, Sikh, Buddhist, Jain, Parsi, or Christian) from Afghanistan, Bangladesh, and Pakistan.

However, Pakistani Hindus were already eligible for citizenship under Section 5 and Section 6(1) of the Citizenship Act, 1955. The CAA only helped fast track the application process.

The notification drew criticism from the opposition which termed it discriminatory and unconstitutional. They also claimed it to be politically motivated in the midst of Lok Sabha elections 2024.

According to officials, applications were received from individuals belonging to Hindu, Sikh, Jain, Buddhist, Parsi, and Christian communities from Pakistan, Bangladesh, and Afghanistan. These individuals entered India on or before December 31, 2014, due to religious persecution or fear of such persecution.

The final authority to grant citizenship is vested in an empowered committee headed by the Director of Census Operations, while the scrutiny of online applications filed on the portal is carried out by a district-level committee (DLC) headed by officials from the Department of Posts.

Once the documents are successfully verified, the DLCs administers the oath of allegiance to the applicants. The portal has reportedly received over 25,000 applications thus far.

It is important to note that several opposition leaders including West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee and Kerala chief minister Pinarayi Vijayan have vowed that they will not implement the law in their respective states.

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