The provisions of the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) came into effect from Friday after the Home Ministry issued a gazette notification. The CAA, which has led to widespread protests in the country, grants citizenship to individuals who are Hindu, Sikh, Buddhist, Christian, Jain, or Parsi and who entered India from Pakistan, Bangladesh, or Afghanistan by the cut-off date of December 31, 2014—excluding Muslims.
“In exercise of the powers conferred by sub-section (2) of the section 1 of the Citizenship (Amendment) Act, 2019 (47 of 2019), the Central government hereby appoints the 10th day of January, 2020, as the date on which the provisions of the said Act shall come into force,” the notification said. The home ministry, however, is yet to frame the rules for the act.
The Citizenship Amendment Bill (CAB) became law after receiving the President’s assent on December 14, following a bruising debate in Parliament. At least three Opposition ruled states — Kerala, Punjab and West Bengal —have said they will not implement the new citizenship law, and legal challenges have been made in the Supreme Court.
Protesters have argued that the law is unconstitutional in that it makes religion criteria for citizenship. Concerns have also been raised over the proposed nationwide NRC, combined with the Act. After protests spread, the government has sought to downplay its narrative on NRC, but maintained that the CAA shall come into force.
Uttar Pradesh has been the worst-affected state by the protests against the CAA, with violence erupting mainly in 12 districts, including Firozabad, Rampur, Meerut, Muzaffarnagar, Bulandshahr and Bahraich. As per officials, 19 people lost their lives in clashes during widespread protests across Uttar Pradesh in December.
The government has defended the citizenship act saying it is the responsibility of the country to provide a safe haven for minorities in the three neighbouring countries as they face prosecution there.
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