Ahead of the Gujarat Assembly elections, the Union Ministry of Home Affairs has decided to give citizenship rights to the minority community members hailing from Pakistan, Bangladesh and Afghanistan, living in two districts of the state.
In a notification, the ministry stated that any person belonging to the minority communities in Afghanistan, Bangladesh and Pakistan, namely, Hindus, Sikhs, Buddhists, Jains, Parsis and Christians, residing in Anand and Mehsana districts in Gujarat will be given Indian citizenship under the Citizenship Act, 1955. These people have been living as refugees in Gujarat for a long time.
According to the notification, under Section 6 of the Citizenship Act, 1955 and as per the provisions of the Citizenship Rules, 2009, all of them will be allowed to register themselves as citizens of India or will be granted a certificate of citizenship.
All such people will be required to submit their applications online, which will be verified by the collector at the district level, said the home ministry.
Adding that, the application and the report shall be simultaneously made accessible online to the Central government. The Collector may, if deemed necessary, conduct any kind of inquiry to ascertain whether the applicant is suitable for citizenship.
This decision of granting citizenship under the Citizenship Act, 1955, instead of the controversial Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA), 2019, is crucial and is also being linked to the upcoming Gujarat elections.
In the CAA passed in 2019, there is a provision to give citizenship to the minorities of the three countries. However, it is yet to be implemented as its rules have not been framed, which is why citizenship cannot be granted under this.