Union Home Minister Amit Shah on Saturday declared that the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) will be notified and implemented in the country before the 2024 Lok Sabha elections. He said that the act, which was passed by Parliament in 2019, aims to provide citizenship to persecuted refugees from Bangladesh, Pakistan, and Afghanistan.
CAA is an act of the country, not BJP: Shah
Shah, who was speaking at the ET Now-Global Business summit in Delhi, said that the CAA is an act of the country and not of the BJP. He said that the act will be notified before the polls and there should be no confusion around it. He also accused the opposition parties of misleading the minorities, especially the Muslim community, about the CAA.
“CAA cannot snatch away anyone’s citizenship because there is no provision in the act. CAA is an act to provide citizenship to refugees who were persecuted in Bangladesh and Pakistan,” Shah said. He added that the act does not discriminate against any religion and is based on humanitarian grounds.
CAA was a promise of the Congress government: Shah
Shah also claimed that the CAA was a promise of the Congress government, which had assured the refugees that they were welcome in India and they will be provided with Indian citizenship. He said that the Congress had reneged on its commitment and was now opposing the act.
“When the country was divided and the minorities were persecuted in those countries, Congress had assured the refugees that they were welcome in India and they will be provided with Indian citizenship. Now they are backtracking,” Shah said.
He also slammed the Congress for its alliance with the All India United Democratic Front (AIUDF) in Assam, saying that it was a party that supports illegal immigrants. He said that the BJP will not allow Assam to become another Kashmir and will protect the culture and identity of the Assamese people.
CAA sparked protests across the country
The CAA, which became law in December 2019, sparked protests across the country, especially in states like Assam, West Bengal, Delhi, and Uttar Pradesh. The act seeks to amend the Citizenship Act of 1955 to grant eligibility for Indian citizenship to Hindu, Sikh, Buddhist, Jain, Parsi, and Christian illegal migrants from Bangladesh, Pakistan, and Afghanistan, who entered India on or before December 31, 2014.
The protesters, who included students, activists, civil society groups, and opposition parties, argued that the act was unconstitutional, discriminatory, and against the secular ethos of the country. They also expressed concerns over the proposed National Register of Citizens (NRC), which they feared would be used to exclude genuine citizens, especially Muslims, from the citizenship list.
The government, however, maintained that the CAA and the NRC are two separate issues and that the CAA does not affect the existing citizens of India. The government also said that the CAA was a humanitarian gesture to provide relief to the persecuted minorities from the neighboring countries.
CAA awaits notification and rules
The CAA, which was passed by both the houses of Parliament and received the presidential assent, is yet to be notified and implemented in the country. The notification is a formal process of announcing the commencement of the act and its provisions. The notification also requires the framing of rules and regulations for the implementation of the act.
The government has not notified the CAA so far, amid the ongoing protests and the COVID-19 pandemic. The government has also not clarified the timeline for the notification and the implementation of the act. However, Shah’s statement on Saturday indicates that the government is determined to implement the act before the next general elections, which are due in 2024.