'Why The Cut-Off In Eligibility Dates If CAA Law Is Meant For Persecuted Refugees?' Sindhis Ask

'Why The Cut-Off In Eligibility Dates If CAA Law Is Meant For Persecuted Refugees?' Sindhis Ask

The law will expedite the citizenship applications for members of minority religious groups from Pakistan, Bangladesh, and Afghanistan, who have sought refuge in India to escape persecution.

Manoj RamakrishnanUpdated: Wednesday, March 13, 2024, 09:19 PM IST
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Sindhi speakers will gather at a Bandra hall on Thursday to celebrate the implementation of the Citizens Amendment Rules that enforces the Citizenship Amendment Act passed in 2019. The law will expedite the citizenship applications for members of minority religious groups from Pakistan, Bangladesh, and Afghanistan, who have sought refuge in India to escape persecution. 

While the new rules and law will simplify the citizenship process for refugees by doing away with requirements like a passport of the country they fled from, and an Indian visa, community members wanted the provisions of the law to be extended till 2024 and not restricted to only refugees who entered the country before December 31, 2014.

While the new law will mainly help two large groups - Sindhi and Bengali speaking Hindu migrants, Christian, Sikh, Buddhist, and Zoroastrians from Pakistan, Bangladesh, and Afghanistan are also covered by the law. The old 1955 law on citizenship made it difficult for refugees who travel to India without travel documents to obtain citizenship, forcing them to live in India as illegal migrants. Citizenship applications of those who completed 11 years of stay in India were heard by District Collectors. Though the rules were relaxed in some areas, the citizenship process was long.

One of the groups that will be benefitted by the new law are Hindu refugees from Sindh in Pakistan whose citizenship process will be fast-tracked. According to Sindhi community associations, there are nearly 50,000 such refugees in India.

Dr Gurmukh Jagwani, a former minister of state and Member of Legislative Council (MLC) from Jalgaon, said that hundreds of families come to India, mostly crossing the Wahga-Attari border crossing in Punjab. There are an estimated 2,000 to 5,000 migrants in Delhi alone, waiting for citizenship, said Jagwani who himself moved from Karachi in 1984. "They apply for Long Term Visa (LTV) which is valid for a year and need to be renewed annually by the local police. The new rules mean that they need not have these documents and only have to produce papers to establish their identity and place of origin," said Jagwani. 

Other members of the community said that there was no need to have a cut-off date if the idea was to give citizenship to persecuted migrants. "Despite the shortcomings in the law, many Hindus from Pakistan would like to come to India. This law will make the process easier for them," said Kishore Peshori, an academician from Mumbai. 

The community is now hoping that the cut-off dates will be extended. 

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