300 Pakistan Hindus get Indian citizenship under CAA

The Centre on Wednesday granted the first batch of citizenship certificates to over 300 people under the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA), the event coming in the middle of a high-stakes general election where the controversial law is a livewire campaign issue in key provinces.

Union home secretary Ajay Bhalla handed over the certificates to the 14 individuals at a ceremony in Delhi after their applications were processed online through a designated portal. Officials familiar with the developments said several hundred other certificates – at least 300 in all – were sent to eligible persons through email on Wednesday.

“Home secretary congratulated the applicants and highlighted salient features of the citizenship (amendment) rules, 2024,” the ministry of home affairs (MHA) said in a statement.

The process of verification and granting of citizenship will continue over the next few weeks as and when the applications are decided by the empowered committee formed by MHA to look into citizenship requests.

“Although I had been living here since 2013, today I feel I belong to this country. I can now freely call it my own and roam anywhere without any fear,” said Seetal Das, a 38-year-old refugee from Sindh in Pakistan who now lives in north Delhi’s Manju ka Tilla and was among the first people to receive the citizenship certificate.

Asserting that Prime Minister Narendra Modi delivered on another commitment – referring to Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) slogan ‘Modi Ki guarantee’ – Union home minister Amit Shah said it was a historic day as the decades-long wait of those who faced religious persecution in Pakistan, Bangladesh and Afghanistan was now over.