Modi Govt notifies CAA: What the Citizenship Act says

Citizenship may be acquired in India through five different ways according to the Citizenship Act, 1955.
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More than four years after being passed in the Parliament, the Union government on Monday, March 11, notified rules under the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA). 

The Citizenship (Amendment) Bill, 2019 was passed in the Lok Sabha on December 11, 2019. The Bill amended the Citizenship Act, 1955. It made certain foreign illegal migrants are eligible for Indian citizenship.  

The Citizenship Act, 1955

Citizenship may be acquired in India through five ways according to the Citizenship Act, 1955. Citizenship is acquired by birth, by descent, through registration, by naturalisation (extended residence in India), and by incorporation of territory into India. This Act prohibited a foreign illegal migrant (a person without valid travel documents) from acquiring Indian citizenship.  

The Citizenship (Amendment) Bill, 2019

The Bill brought in certain exemptions. Illegal migrants who came into India from Afghanistan, Bangladesh, or Pakistan and belong to the Hindu, Sikh, Buddhist, Jain, Parsi, or Christian religious communities can be given citizenship if they entered India on or before December 31, 2014. The Union government can grant a certificate of registration or certificate of naturalisation to a person if they fulfil the conditions under Section 5 of the Third Schedule of the primary act. 

The number of years that the person must have resided in India was reduced from 11 years to 5 years.  

Protests erupted in India in 2018 with critics asking why only these six religions and why not Muslims. Rohingya Muslims from Myanmar have fled facing persecution, Ahmadiyya Muslims in Pakistan face persecution. To this, the government has not given any direct answers.  

The other fear is what happens if there is a nationwide exercise for making a register of citizens – like the NRC in Assam. In Assam, there were more than 19 lakh people who were initially left out of the citizens list in Assam – and according to some reports, this included at least 5 lakh Hindus.

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