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Centre yet to frame rules for implementing CAA

By R Dutta Choudhury

GUWAHATI, March 8 - Though both the Houses of the Parliament passed the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill, 2019 to make it an Act despite strong protests in Assam and other parts of the country, it is still not decided when the Government will start implementing the Act and the process of formulating the rules has also slowed down.

Highly placed sources in the Government of India told The Assam Tribune that to implement the Act on the ground, the Government would have to frame the rules and for that, the Centre has to take the views of the stakeholders and the State Governments.

Sources revealed that the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) started the process of consultation with the stakeholders in the month of January, but the process slowed down after strong protests in different parts of the country. Sources said that in the consultation process, the Government initially talked with the groups and organizations representing the people who are likely to be benefitted by the Citizenship (Amendment) Act. In the next phase, the Government would have to take the opinion of the State Governments before finalizing the rules for implementing the CAA.

Sources pointed out that first priority of the Government would be to finalize what documents would be allowed to ascertain the identity of the people applying for Indian citizenship. The Government will have to finalize the documents, which will be allowed to be submitted by the applicants to prove that they came to India from Bangladesh, Pakistan or Afghanistan before December 31, 2014. The persons will also have to prove their religion, sources pointed out.

Sources admitted that the situation would be more complicated in case of Assam. It is assumed that most of the suspected foreigners, who would be benefitted by the CAA, had applied for inclusion of their names in the National Register of Citizens (NRC). Now the same people will apply for citizenship claiming that they are religious minorities of Bangladesh, Pakistan or Afghanistan. �This will mean, they either submitted forged documents while applying for inclusion of names in the NRC or they would submit forged papers to apply to become Indian citizens under the provisions of the CAA,� sources pointed out. Another major issue is that no Government agency has records of the number of foreigners who would be benefitted from the CAA in Assam and West Bengal as majority of the people came illegally by taking advantage of the porous border.

The Government will also have to issue detailed guidelines to the officers who will be entrusted with the responsibility of handling the applications and preparation of such guidelines will also take some time, sources added.

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