A few weeks before the 2024 Lok Sabha election, the Indian government released a notification regarding the controversial Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA). A specific web gateway will assist the online application process.

Amit Shah, the Union Home Minister, applauded the announcement of the Citizenship (Amendment) Rules, 2024, highlighting that its execution would offer a route to Indian citizenship for minorities pursued due to their religious beliefs in Pakistan, Bangladesh, and Afghanistan.

The BJP’s Election Program and Commitment

Shah emphasised that the notification carries out a pledge and realises the constitutional guarantee made to Hindus, Buddhists ,Christians,Jains, Parsis,and Sikhs residing in the aforementioned nations. Prior to the 2019 election, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) used the implementation of the CAA as a major campaign platform.

The announcement coincides with Amit Shah’s recent pledge that the CAA would be enacted, calling it “an act of the country” and saying it would take effect prior to the approaching election.

What exactly is the Citizenship Amendment Act ?

Under the CAA, some religious minorities in Afghanistan, Bangladesh, and Pakistan can apply for Indian citizenship more quickly, therefore amending the Citizenship Act of 1955. 

Protests and Opposition Response

A number of students protested the decision at Jamia Millia Islamia after receiving the news. The Citizenship Amendment Act was deemed unlawful by the National Students’ Union of India (NSUI), who voiced their disapproval. Parties in opposition claim that the law discriminates against Muslims and is divisive.

For migrants from particular faith groups (Hindu, Sikh, Jain, Parsi, Buddhist, and Christian) who experienced persecution because of their faith in Afghanistan, Bangladesh, and Pakistan, the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) provides a streamlined route to Indian citizenship; however, Muslims are not included in this initiative. Critics contend that the Indian Constitution’s secular values are violated and that this exclusion is discriminatory. Concerns have also been expressed regarding the CAA’s possible relationship to the National Register of Citizens (NRC), which in some versions may apply to a disproportionate number of Muslims. These elements working together have given rise to extensive demonstrations and discussions on how the CAA affects India’s Muslim community in particular.

There are concerns regarding the timing and the effects of the CAA given the government’s decision to implement it before the election. Supporters and critics disagree on issues such as religious intolerance and the necessity to stop minorities from being persecuted in nearby nations. This development is probably going to start more discussions about how the CAA affects India’s political and social structure.

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