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HomeIndia NewsFirst group receives Indian citizenship under controversial law

First group receives Indian citizenship under controversial law

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India granted citizenship to 14 people on Wednesday under the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA), a law criticised for discriminating against Muslims. This event occurred midway through the general elections, where religious divisions have been a significant issue.

The CAA, enacted in 2019, offers citizenship to Hindus, Parsis, Sikhs, Buddhists, Jains, and Christians who fled from Muslim-majority Afghanistan, Bangladesh, and Pakistan before December 31, 2014, due to religious persecution. The law’s implementation in March followed significant protests and violence, which delayed its enforcement.

On Wednesday, the recipients took the oath of allegiance and received citizenship after their documents were verified, according to the home ministry. The ministry did not disclose their identities. Home Minister Amit Shah described it as a “historic day,” stating that the long wait for those facing religious persecution in neighbouring countries had ended.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) deny that the CAA is anti-Muslim, asserting that the law facilitates a dignified life for non-Muslim refugees. Muslim refugees, they said, can still apply for citizenship through regular procedures.

Harish Kumar, a Hindu refugee from Pakistan, expressed his relief, stating, “This is like being reborn. If a person doesn’t have rights then what is the point, (now) we can go forward in education, jobs.”

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The general elections, which began on April 19 and will conclude on June 4, have seen Modi shift his campaign focus from economic achievements to accusing the opposition Congress party of being pro-Muslim. Analysts suggest this strategy aims to mobilise BJP’s Hindu nationalist base after a low turnout in the first phase raised concerns about achieving a landslide victory.

India, a Hindu-majority country, has the world’s third-largest Muslim population, with 200 million people. Critics argue that Modi’s government and the BJP systematically discriminate against Muslims to promote their Hindu revivalist agenda. Modi and the BJP reject these claims, emphasising their commitment to the welfare of all communities.

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