6 People From Bangladesh Get Indian Citizenship After CAA
Only six people from Bangladesh have been granted Indian citizenship in 2020 after the contentious Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) was passed in December last year, official data tabled in Parliament show, a number which could help the ruling BJP counter the narrative against the legislation in Assam ahead of assembly polls next year.
The passage of CAA in Parliament triggered widespread protests across the country, and especially in Assam where illegal influx of people from Bangladesh is an emotive issue and has shaped the election discourse since the 1980s.
CAA grants Indian citizenship to persecuted non-Muslims from three neighbouring countries—Pakistan, Bangladesh and Afghanistan.
In a written reply in Rajya Sabha, junior home minister Nityanand Rai said records of citizenship are maintained under the Citizenship Act, 1955. “These records are not maintained religion-wise,” he added.
The government said 2,729 people from 44 countries have been granted Indian citizenship since 2017 to September 17 this year. The data has been “generated from online citizenship module”, the government added.
Pakistan accounted for the maximum number of these people—2,120 in the last four years—followed by Afghanistan with 188. The number of people from Bangladesh who have become Indian citizens in four years is 99, out of which 25 were granted citizenship in 2019.
The passage of CAA had sparked violent protests across Assam and at least five people were killed in police firing, bringing back memories of the six-year-long anti-foreigners agitation between 1979-1985.
Growing anger against the BJP—which came to power in the state for the first time in 2016—recently saw the birth of a new political Assam Jatiya Parishad (AJP). Floated by the All Assam Students’ Union (AASU) and the Asom Jatiyatabadi Yuba Chatra Parishad (AJYCP), which had spearheaded the anti-foreigners agitation. The party will contest the assembly polls which are due in April-May 2021.
The AASU and opposition political parties—including the Congress—had termed the CAA a “betrayal” by the BJP which had played the anti-foreigner card to sweep the polls.
Though there is no official data on the number of undocumented migrants from Bangladesh—Assam shares a 268-km boundary with the country—figures cited by organisations like AASU and others range from several lakhs to more than a crore.
A political analyst affiliated to the BJP said that the numbers will help the BJP counter the narrative that the CAA will flood Assam with “Bangladeshis”, a term used to mainly describe all illegal migrants. “Since the beginning, the party and the government have been saying that the number of persecuted non-Muslims is just a few. I hope the data will help the people see the truth,” the analyst added.
Last year, more than 19 lakh people were left out of the National Register of Citizens (NRC) after a controversial exercise to determine the number of Indian citizens in Assam. The final NRC on August 31, 2019, included 3.11 crore names. The Assam government, however, rejected the NRC claiming that many ineligible persons managed to include their names while genuine Indian citizens were left out from the database.