CAA: Applicants may need to show proof for citizenship

Applicants may have to show proof for citizenship under Citizenship Amendment Act

Parliament passed the CAA on December 11 and notified by the Ministry of Home Affairs that it would come into force from January 10.

People seeking citizenship under the new Citizenship Amendment Act may have to provide documents to prove their religion and their entry into India before December 2014, officials said on Monday.

The rules regarding these provisions are under preparations, they said adding those applying will also have provide proof that they came from Pakistan, Afghanistan or Bangladesh.

The new amendments to the Citizenship Act provide for citizenship to persecuted minorities from the three countries who have entered India before 31 December, 2014. It reduces the period for naturalisation from 11 years to five years for these communities.

Applicants will have to submit proof that they belong to these countries, their religion and when they entered India, they said.

Parliament passed the CAA on December 11 and notified by the Ministry of Home Affairs that it would come into force from January 10.

According to the report of the Joint Committee of Parliament that vetted a previous version of the Bill, there were 31,313 people belonging to minority communities from these countries will be "immediate beneficiaries", as they had been given Long Term Visas on the basis of their claim of religious persecution in their respective countries and want Indian citizenship.

Among 31,313, the Intelligence Bureau told the panel, 25,447 are Hindus, 5,807 are Sikhs, 55 Christians and two each Buddhists and Parsis.

For citizenship, the IB said, they will have to prove that they came to India due to religious persecution. "If they had not declared so at the time of arrival in India, it would be difficult for them to make such a claim now. Any future claim will be enquired into, including through RAW before a decision is taken," the IB had told the panel.

Then queried about the mechanism available with the government to establish religious persecution in a foreign land, the MHA had told the panel that inputs from security agencies along with other corroborative evidence in the print or electronic media "would help to establish religious persecution in a foreign land".

The IB had then said that it would be difficult to verify the claims of those who entered decades ago. "However, for recent cases, if any, due verification would be made before their claim for Indian citizenship is entertained," it had said.

The Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) under preparation by MHA, for an applicant who applies with an affidavit mentioning that he or she was compelled to migrate to India due to religious persecution or fear of religious persecution, along with other supporting documents, a detailed enquiry will be conducted by Foreigners Regional Registration Office (FRRO)/Foreigners Registration Office (FRO) concerned to verify his/her claim.

"If the affidavit is not supported by documents, the case will be referred to Foreigners Tribunals to be constituted for this purpose under the Foreigners (Tribunals) Order, 1964 for verification of the claim regarding religious persecution."