4 Years After Bill Passed, Citizenship Law CAA Likely To Become Reality Today

As the CAA nears notification (and implementation), opposition politicians have spoken out, insisting it will not be enforced in their respective territories.

4 Years After Bill Passed, Citizenship Law CAA Likely To Become Reality Today
New Delhi:

The Union Home Ministry could issue a notification later tonight to implement the controversial Citizenship Amendment Act, sources told NDTV Monday afternoon. 

The CAA was cleared by Parliament in December 2019 amid violent protests and fierce resistance from opposition politicians and the chief ministers of non-BJP states. Over 100 people were killed in those protests.

Once issued, the government can grant Indian nationality to non-Muslim migrants from Bangladesh, Pakistan and Afghanistan, who had come to India before 2015. An unnamed official told news agency ANI "the regulations are prepared and an online portal is already set up... applicants can disclose year of entry without travel documents". No additional documents will be required, the official said.

This comes less than a month after Home Minister Amit Shah stressed the CAA will be implemented before the Lok Sabha election, which is due in April/May. "CAA is an act of the country... it will definitely be notified. CAA will come into effect before the election (and) nobody should be confused about this."

Mr Shah last month sought to play down fears the CAA, and the equally contentious NRC, or National Register of Citizens, will be combined to target minority communities. "Our Muslim brothers are being misled and instigated. CAA is only meant to give citizenship to those who came to India after facing persecution in Pakistan, Afghanistan and Bangladesh. It is not for snatching anyone's citizenship."

Assurances the CAA will be implemented has been a key election promise of the BJP, both in the 2019 Lok Sabha election and in campaigns for various state polls, with a focus on the 2021 election in Bengal, in which the saffron party and the ruling Trinamool staged high-profile and volatile campaigns.

In December, at a rally in Bengal, Mr Shah had lashed out at Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee again - this time ahead of the 2024 Lok Sabha election - accusing her of misleading the public.

And now, as the CAA nears notification (and implementation), opposition politicians, including Ms Banerjee, have spoken out again, insisting it will not be enforced in their respective territories.

The Bengal Chief Minister said Prime Minister Narendra Modi's BJP - bidding for a third term at the centre - had only raised the issue now for votes. "With elections approaching, BJP has again raked up CAA issue to reap political benefits. But let me make it clear, as long as I am alive, I will not allow it in Bengal."

Ms Banerjee's Tamil Nadu counterpart, MK Stalin, was similarly emphatic. Accusing the BJP government of going "against communal harmony", the DMK boss too vowed he would not implement the law. 

Other states - like Kerala and Punjab - and others then ruled by the Congress (and now by the BJP) - such as Rajasthan and Chhattisgarh - also opposed the CAA and passed resolutions. In fact, the Bengal and Kerala governments also stopped all NPR, or National Population Register, and NRC work.

In Telangana, the then-ruling Bharat Rashtra Samithi of ex-Chief Minister K Chandrashekar Rao also passed resolutions against all three and urged the government to "remove all references to any religion, or to any foreign country" in view of fears expressed by lakhs across the country.

The Madhya Pradesh government - then also ruled by the Congress - also passed a resolution, and, significantly, several BJP leaders and lawmakers from the state also criticised the law.

The government has said the Citizenship Amendment Act will help minorities from Muslim-dominated countries get citizenship if they fled due to religious persecution. However, critics say it is designed to discriminate against Muslims and violates secular principles of the Constitution.

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