The Assam government has suggested to the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) that the window to apply for Indian citizenship under the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) should be kept at three months so that the number of applicants does not swell too much in the state.
The state government has suggested that once the rules for the legislation are notified, applicants should be given only three months to apply. “We have suggested that it should not be open-ended. Curtailing of period will likely bring down the numbers. If Assamese people come to know that there are no more than 3-4 lakh people in Assam who are going to be given citizenship, perhaps the anger against the legislation will die down,” a senior minister in the Assam government said.
Assam was the first state to see protests against the new citizenship law and massive demonstrations have continued in the state. While CAA exempts Sixth Schedule areas governed by autonomous councils from the Act, it has done little to pacify the anger on the ground.
“There is some outrage over CAA in the state but the government is trying to convince people,” state minister Himanta Biswa Sarma said on the sidelines of an event in Delhi after he was asked about the situation in Assam.
While the Act was notified on January 10, its rules are yet to be finalised and notified. Without rules in place, necessary authorities identified and processes streamlined for applicants, the citizenship granting exercise would not be feasible practically.
The Act has also been opposed by multiple state governments on the ground that it specifically leaves out
Muslims and is against the fundamental principles of the Constitution.
Sources said there would be no need to prove whether the applicant had faced religious persecution in the three countries mentioned in the Act. “That would be deemed to be true. No one would have to prove religious persecution,” an MHA official said.
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