- Many Rohingya and Afghan Muslims are adopting Christianity in the country
- Rohingya are adopting Christianity to take advantage of CAA
- CAA eases citizenship rules for immigrants from Hindu, Sikh, Buddhist, Jain, Parsi and Christian religions from Afghanistan, Bangladesh and Pakistan
Rahul Tripathi, New Delhi
To avoid the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA), many Afghan and Rohingya Muslims have embraced Christianity to make it easier for them to become Indian citizens. Central agencies have informed the government about this. According to people aware of the case, agencies have found in their investigation that at least 25 Afghan Muslims have converted to Christianity.
CAA has made rules for migrants from 3 countries easy
The Citizenship Amendment Act 2019 passed in Parliament last year has simplified the citizenship rules for migrants from Hindu, Sikh, Buddhist, Jain, Parsi and Christian religions from Afghanistan, Bangladesh and Pakistan. Earlier it was mandatory for a person to stay here for at least 11 years to get citizenship of India. By making this rule easier, the period of acquiring citizenship has been changed from one year to 6 years, i.e., people living in India will get citizenship in the last one to six years of the above mentioned six religions of these three countries. The Union Home Ministry is yet to notify the CAA 2019 rule.
‘Many Muslims want to adopt Christianity’
Abid Ahmed Maxwell, who goes to the Afghan Church in South Delhi, told ET, “After the CAA law is enacted, many Muslims in Afghanistan are trying to convert to Christianity.” Maxwell, 34, came to India when he was 21 years old. His parents believed in Sunni Islam and lived near Kabul in Afghanistan. He said that most Afghans applied for asylum from the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugee (UNHCR).
About 1.60 lakh Afghanis live in India
According to official data, around 1.50 lakh to 1.60 lakh Afghan Muslims live in East Kailash, Lajpat Nagar, Ashok Nagar and Ashram in Delhi. The same community had recently helped in rescuing Afghan Sikh Nidan Singh Sachdev from the clutches of Taliban militants in Paktika province.
Many Rohingya tell themselves Bangladeshi
In addition, officials believe that about 40 thousand Rohingya Muslims live all over India. Their number is the highest in Jammu and Kashmir. Rohingya Muslims have been living in the country on a large scale since 2012 and now describe themselves as Bangladeshi and are also adopting Christianity.
Nearly 4 thousand people of Afghanistan, Bangladesh and Pakistan get Indian citizenship in 6 years
In the last 6 years, about 4,000 thousand people of Afghanistan, Bangladesh and Pakistan have been given Indian citizenship. According to the Ministry of Home Affairs, India had merged 50 enclaves of Bangladesh under the 2014 Settlement Boundary Agreement, and about 14,864 Bangladeshi nationals were granted citizenship of India.
A government official, on the condition of anonymity, said that they could try to tamper with the CAA whose asylum application could be rejected by the UNHCR or the refugee Rohingya who had come to India before the cut-off date. Afghan clergy support CAA but also want the government to provide some safeguards to those who convert to Islam from Christianity.
What is the provision for illegal migrants?
Illegal migrants can either be kept in jail or sent back to their country under the Foreigners Act, 1946 and the Passports (Entry into India) Act, 1920. But by amending the above laws of 1946 and 1920 in the years 2015 and 2016, the Central Government has exempted Hindus, Sikhs, Buddhists, Jains, Parsis and Christians from Afghanistan, Bangladesh and Pakistan. This means that if people belonging to these religions live in India without valid documents then they can neither be put in jail nor can they be deported. This exemption is available to those of the above religious group who have reached India on or before 31 December 2014. To make people belonging to these religious groups eligible for citizenship of India, the Citizenship Amendment Bill, 2016 was introduced in Parliament to amend the Citizenship Act, 1955.