New Citizenship Act won't take away nationality: Shah

New Citizenship Act won't take away nationality: Shah

Union Home Affairs Minister and BJP National President Amit Shah. (PTI photo)

Union Home Minister Amit Shah on Monday said the Citizenship (Amendment) Act 2019, which was recently passed by the Parliament, will give Indian nationality to refugees facing religious persecution in three neighbouring countries and not take away anyone's citizenship in India.

Addressing an election rally here while campaigning for the BJP, Shah also alleged that some political parties were spreading rumours and inciting violence to promote their political interests.

"The CAA is to give citizenship to refugees facing religious persecution, it is not to take away the citizenship of any Indian," he said.

The Home Minister urged students to go through the newly enacted law and to not fall in the trap of political parties.

"Some parties are spreading rumours and inciting violence for their political interest. I request students to go through the CAA once and not fall in their trap," he said.

Shah's comments on the Citizenship (Amendment) Act came amidst widespread protests by students and other people in different parts of the country against the legislation.

According to the act, members of Hindu, Sikh, Buddhist, Jain, Parsi and Christian communities who have come from Pakistan, Bangladesh and Afghanistan till December 31, 2014, and were facing religious persecution there will not be treated as illegal immigrants and will be given Indian citizenship.

The act, passed by the Parliament and assented to by the President last week, says refugees belonging to the six communities will be given Indian citizenship after they reside in India for five years, instead of 11 years earlier.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi also termed violent protests across the country against the Citizenship Amendment Act as "unfortunate and deeply distressing", and appealed to people to stay away from rumour-mongering and not let "vested interests" divide the society.

In a series of tweets, Modi also assured that the amended citizenship law does not affect any Indian of any religion.

Home Ministry officials said in New Delhi that no refugees belonging to Hindu and other five communities coming from Pakistan, Bangladesh, and Afghanistan will be given Indian citizenship automatically but only after fulfilling the necessary criteria.

"The new act does not mean that all refugees or illegal immigrants (will be) getting Indian citizenship automatically. They have to apply for citizenship which will be processed by the competent authority.

"The applicant concerned will be given Indian citizenship only after fulfilling the required criteria," the official said.