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CAA Enters Into Force 4 Years After Initial Bill Passed

The government published a notification on Monday evening for the Citizenship Amendment Act, or CAA, which will go into force today, weeks before the 2024 Lok Sabha election. The CAA was approved by Parliament in December 2019, despite concerns from activists and opposition MPs.

With the notification issued, the central government can now grant citizenship to members of the Hindu, Sikh, Buddhist, Parsi, Jain, or Christian communities from Bangladesh, Pakistan, and Afghanistan who arrived in India on or before December 31, 2014 to flee religious persecution.

A spokesperson for the Home Ministry said eligible individuals could submit applications in “a completely online mode”. No other documentation will be sought from the applicants, one official said.

Implementation of the CAA was a major campaign platform for the BJP before the 2019 election.

Less than a month ago Home Minister Amit Shah called the CAA  “an act of the country” and said, “it will definitely be notified. CAA will come into effect before the election…”

The Home Minister – who led the government’s charge on this topic in both houses of Parliament – also played down fears the CAA, and the NRC, or National Register of Citizens, will be used to target Muslims.

He accused Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee – who has long been one of the CAA’s fiercest and most vocal critics – of deliberately misleading the people of her state on this topic. Bengal – with 42 Lok Sabha seats –  is shaping to be a key battleground for the BJP as it bids to reach its target of 370.

Meanwhile, Ms Banerjee hit out almost immediately, telling reporters at a hastily-convened press conference that her government would steadfastly oppose “anything that discriminates (against) people”.

“If there is any discrimination, we won’t accept it. Be it religion, caste, or linguistic. They won’t be able to give citizenship to anyone in two days. This is just lollipop and show-off,” she declared.

“After multiple extensions in four years, its implementation two to three days before the election announcement shows that it is being done for political reasons,” she slammed the BJP.

The Trinamool boss also pointed out the CAA, the NRC, and the NPR, or National Population Register, were sensitive topics in Bengal and the northeast, and that she does not want unrest before the election.

Significantly, parts of the northeast have been exempted from the CAA.

She also accused the BJP of raking up the CAA issue with an eye on votes. “With elections approaching, BJP has again raked up CAA to reap political benefits. But as long as I am alive, I will not allow it…”.

In the northeast – which saw violent clashes between anti-CAA protesters and the police – the Assam Students Union, which led protests in the state four years ago, has sounded the call for another agitation.

Ms Banerjee isn’t the only opposition politician to fight against the CAA.

The Bengal leader’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 criticized 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 discriminates against Muslims and violates the Constitution.

Get the latest news updates and stay informed with FELA NEWS!

(Source: NDTV)

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