Amid a popular backlash over the controversial law to grant Indian citizenship to illegal immigrants from three neighbouring Islamic countries as long as they practice religions other than Islam, the provincial government in western Gujarat, home state of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, has decided to implement it from Friday. By registering 3,500 Hindus who migrated from Pakistan prior to January 2015, Gujarat will become the first state to begin implementation.
Currently, immigrants from Pakistan living in Gujarat are settled in Kutch district, the town of Morbi, the city of Rajkot and Banaskantha district. Media reports say junior federal minister Mansukh Mandaviya would also be present during the first registration.
After the new registration process, the application would be sent to the federal Home Ministry for approval, before obtaining citizenship.
Most of these immigrants are from the Sodha Rajput clan in Pakistan’s Sindh province. Not only can they speak Gujarati, some of them have lived in India for 15-20 years.
Gujarat chief minister Vijay Rupani declared on Wednesday (18 December) that the BJP-run government in the state would “definitely implement” the controversial law, along with the proposed nationwide National Register of Citizens (NRC).
“All states are bound to implement both NRC and CAA, and Gujarat would definitely implement them,” Rupani had said.
Since last week, widespread protests have been taking place across India over the newly enacted Citizenship Amendment Act that provides citizenship to Hindus, Sikhs, Buddhists, Jains, Parsis and Christians living illegally in the country, who faced religious persecution from Pakistan, Bangladesh, and Afghanistan and arrived before 31 December 2014.
India is home to about as many Muslims (approximately 200 million) as neighbouring Pakistan, making its Muslim population second to only that of Indonesia, where an estimated 230 million of the nation's 261 million people. However, they constitute only 14 percent of India's population and Modi's Hindu nationalist party has been accused of policies which target Muslims.