The Centre on Friday invited non-Muslims like Hindus, Sikhs, Jains and Buddhists belonging to Afghanistan, Bangladesh and Pakistan and residing in 13 districts of Gujarat, Rajasthan, Chhattisgarh, Haryana and Punjab to apply for Indian citizenship.
The Union home ministry issued a notification in this effect for immediate implementation of the order under the Citizenship Act 1955 and Rules framed under the law in 2009 even though the rules under the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) enacted in 2019 are yet to be framed by the government.
When the CAA was enacted in 2019, there were widespread protests in different parts of the country and even riots took place in Delhi in early 2020 in the wake of these protests.
According to the CAA, Indian citizenship will be given to non-Muslim persecuted minorities from Bangladesh, Pakistan and Afghanistan -- Hindu, Sikh, Jain, Buddhist, Parsi and Christian -- who had come to India till December 31, 2014.
"In exercise of powers conferred under Section 16 of the Citizenship Act, 1955 (57 of 1955), the central government hereby directs that powers exercisable by it for registration as citizen of India under Section 5, or for grant of certificate of naturalisation under section 6 of the Citizenship Act 1955 in respect of any person belonging to minority community in Afghanistan, Bangladesh and Pakistan namely, Hindus, Sikhs, Buddhists, Jains, Parsis and Christians, residing in the districts mentioned and the states mentioned below....," the notification said.
People who are eligible to apply for Indian citizenship are those currently living in the districts of Morbi, Rajkot, Patan and Vadodara of Gujarat, Durg and Balodabazar in Chhattisgarh, Jalore, Udaipur, Pali, Barmer and Sirohi in Rajasthan, Faridabad in Haryana and Jalandhar in Punjab.
"The application for registration as citizen of India or grant of certificate of naturalisation as citizen of India under the said rules (Citizenship Rules, 2009) shall be made by the applicant online," the notification said.
The home ministry said the verification of the application is done simultaneously by collector or secretary (Home) of Haryana and Punjab as the case may be, at the district-level and the state-level and the application and the reports thereon shall be made accessible simultaneously to the Centre on online portal.
The collector or the secretary, as the case may be, makes such inquiry as he considers necessary for ascertaining the suitability of the applicant and for that purpose forwards the application online to such agencies for verification and comments as may be required for completing such an inquiry and the instructions issued by the Centre from time-to-time in this regard shall be strictly complied with by state or union territory and district concerned, it said.
The comments of the agencies referred to in clause (C) are uploaded online by such agencies and accessible to the collector or the secretary, as the case may be, and the central government.
The collector or the secretary on being satisfied with the suitability of the applicant, will grant him the citizenship of India by registration or naturalisation and issue a certificate of registration or naturalisation, as the case may be, duly printed from online portal and signed by the collector or the secretary in the form as prescribed in the said rules, the notification said.
The collector or the secretary shall maintain an online as well as physical register, in accordance with the said rules, containing the details of the person registered or naturalised as a citizen of India and furnish a copy thereof to the central government within seven days of such registration or naturalisation, it said.
"This order shall come into force on the date of its publication in the official gazette and shall remain valid until further orders," the notification said.