The government of India has invited non-Muslim refugees from Afghanistan, Bangladesh, and Pakistan to apply for Indian citizenship under the nation's citizenship law.
The Union Home Ministry has extended an invitation to Hindu, Sikh, Christian, Jain, and Buddhist refugees from the three aforementioned neighbouring countries who are at present residing in 13 districts of India's Gujarat, Chhattisgarh, Rajasthan, Haryana, and Punjab.
The government issued a notification to this effect for immediate implementation of the order under the Citizenship Act 1955 and Rules framed under the law in 2009. However, rules under the Citizenship (Amendment) Act or the CAA enacted in 2019 are yet to be framed by the government.
"In exercise of the powers conferred by Section 16 of the Citizenship Act, 1955 (57 of 1955), the Central Government hereby directs that powers exercisable by it, for registration as a citizen of India under section 5, or for grant of certificate of naturalisation under Section 6, of the Citizenship Act, 1955, in respect of any person belonging to a minority community in Afghanistan, Bangladesh, and Pakistan, namely, Hindus, Sikhs, Buddhists, Jains, Parsis, and Christians shall also be exercisable by the Collector, within whose jurisdiction the applicant is ordinarily resident", the notification said.
The contentious CAA aims to fast-track citizenship for six minority communities - Hindus, Parsis, Sikhs, Buddhists, Jains, and Christians - who arrived in India on or before 31 December 2014, from Muslim-majority Afghanistan, Bangladesh, and Pakistan. The law passed by Narendra Modi's government received heavy criticism from opposition politicians and ordinary citizens alike.
December 2019 witnessed multiple protests led by Muslim women across India. Protesters feared that the citizenship law would be followed by a nationwide National Register of Citizens (NRC), which is alleged to be an attempt by the Hindu-nationalist government to expel Muslims who do not have sufficient documentation. Protests even snowballed into a riot in the national capital Delhi in early 2020 killing at least 50 people.
During state elections, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modш used the CAA card to woo Hindu refugees from Bangladesh in West Bengal. It has been the Bharatiya Janata Party's promise to grant citizenship to Matuas, a Dalit community that had migrated to West Bengal during the partition of 1947. However, that promise remains unfulfilled.