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Revisiting Citizenship Amendment Act and why its implementation is delayed

The Center will implement the Citizenship Act (CAA) after the end of the COVID-19 pandemic, Home Minister Amit Shah said at a rally Thursday in New Jalpaiguri, West Bengal. Shah accused the ruling Trinamool Congress of spreading rumors that the CAA would not be implemented and allowing the infiltration despite the Center’s pledge to grant recognition to the refugees.

Referring to Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee, Shah said: “Mamata Didi only wants to see the infiltration

However, he reaffirmed that the CAA “was a reality, is a reality and will remain a reality”.

What is the CAA?

Enacted in 2019, the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) aims to grant citizenship to members of the Hindu, Sikh, Buddhist, Jain, Parsi and Christian communities who migrated to India after being persecuted by Afghanistan, Bangladesh and Pakistan before 31 December 2014. The government has proposed to grant them Indian citizenship after six years, contrary to the current practice of naturalization after 12 years of residence.

Demonstrations across the country

Shortly after the Citizenship Bill (CAB) was passed in the Upper House of Parliament in 2019, numerous protests took place in the country. According to reports, many residents of India’s northeastern region believed they would be “overrun” by immigrants from across the border.

The BJP-led NDA government has been criticized for making the CAA a program to marginalize Muslims.

The bill was first tabled in parliament in July 2016 and approved by the lower house where the ruling BJP holds a majority. However, at the time he failed to win the approval of the upper house, following violent anti-migrant protests in the northeast.

The protests were mainly concentrated in Assam, as people believed that implementing the CAA would defeat the very purpose of the NRC, which was to detect and deport illegal immigrants from Assam.

The National Register of Citizens (NRC) is a list of people who have proof of having arrived in India before March 24, 1971, a day before Bangladesh gained independence from Pakistan.

Although the BJP backed the NRC, it changed course before the final list was published, saying it was full of mistakes, the BBC reported. One of the reasons for the BJP’s change of position could be that many Bengali Hindus, who constitute a strong electoral base for the national party, did not register on the list.

Why is AAC controversial?

Critics believe the law violates the secular principles of the Indian Constitution, arguing that a person’s faith cannot be a condition for citizenship.

By creating a divide between Muslims and non-Muslims, the CAA is trying to “explicitly enshrine religious discrimination in law, contrary to our long-standing secular constitutional philosophy”, the BBC quoted Delhi lawyer Gautam Bhatia as saying.

Some critics argue that if the CAA was truly intended to protect religious minorities, it should also have included Muslim minorities who have been persecuted in other countries, such as the Ahmadiyya in Pakistan and the Rohingya in Myanmar.

Why is CAA implementation delayed?

Since the bill was passed by both houses of parliament, the Home Office has asked for an extension five times for framing the rules. In April this year, the Home Office asked for a further six months to set CAA rules for the fifth time. The controversial law was also halted by the COVID-19 pandemic. If the rules are not framed, the government cannot implement the law. Generally, rules are developed within six months of their promulgation. In April, the ministry asked for time until October 9.

First post: STI


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