The importance of the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) was further highlighted after India granted refuge to 700 Sikhs from Afghanistan after repeated dastardly attacks on the Sikh community in the past few months by Pakistan backed terrorists. Despite the best attempts to deflect and spin by the Indian liberals, the CAA has the sole aim to give refuge to the persecuted minorities from Afghanistan, Pakistan and Bangladesh. In a worrying development, many Afghan and Rohingya Muslims are exploiting a loophole in the CAA as they are now converting to Christianity in a bid to gain Indian citizenship under the CAA.
The Economic Times reports that central agencies have alerted the Indian government over the recent conversions to Christianity by Afghan and Rohingya Muslims in order to be eligible for Indian citizenship under the CAA. Agencies have flagged at least 25 such cases of Afghan Muslims converting to Christianity.
Much has been written about how the lives of minorities count for little in Islamic nations like Pakistan, Afghanistan and Bangladesh as the minorities are subjected to unspeakable atrocities and human rights violations. Hence, the CAA was formulated to allow non-Muslim migrants from Afghanistan, Bangladesh and Pakistan to apply for Indian citizenship.
However, CAA has a cut-off date of December 31, 2014, which means only those who migrated to India before that are eligible.
“Post CAA, there has been a spurt in the number of Afghan Muslims wanting to convert to Christianity,” said Adib Ahmed Maxwell, head of a South Delhi Afghan Church.
He further suggested, “An inquiry should be conducted into every application followed by an endorsement from the church for Afghans.”
In Delhi alone, around 150,000 – 160,000 Afghan Muslims reside with around 40,000 Rohingya Muslims reside across India, highest being in Jammu and Kashmir.
It is important to note that after the Modi government took office, 4,000 people from Pakistan, Afghanistan and Bangladesh and Pakistan have been granted Indian citizenship.
Officials also fear that that the CAA can be gamed by Muslim refugees who came to India before the cut-off date.
While the Union Home Ministry is yet to notify the rules for the Citizenship Amendment Act, it is clear that there are many loopholes which can be exploited by anti-India elements. Measures like not considering any recent convert after the passage of CAA must be adopted.
It is also up in the air how does the government plan to enforce the cut-off date and prevent its exploitation. The fact that minorities especially in Pakistan continue to be subjected to hounded and vilified is not lost to anyone, and there’s a valid argument to do away with the cut-off date, however, that will open a hornet’s nest and complicate matters.
The Indian government secured a major victory by ensuring the passage of the CAA in both the houses of the parliament, however, weak guidelines and rules can undo all the woodwork. The Indian government has its task cut out to not only implement CAA, but also ensure it doesn’t get exploited.