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'3 to 5 lakh people will apply for Indian citizenship under CAA in Assam': CM Himanta Biswa Sarma

Assam Chief Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma said that the applicants for Indian citizenship under the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) will primarily consist of those who were excluded from the updated National Register of Citizens (NRC).

Edited By: Arushi Jaiswal @JaiswalArushi Guwahati Published on: March 19, 2024 7:01 IST
Himanta Biswa Sarma, CAA
Image Source : PTI (FILE) Assam Chief Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma

Citizenship (Amendment) Act: Assam Chief Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma has asserted that approximately three to five lakh people will seek Indian citizenship under the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) in the state. He emphasized that these applicants will primarily consist of individuals who were excluded from the updated National Register of Citizens (NRC).

The Chief Minister said that among those excluded from the NRC list, there are approximately seven lakh Muslims and five lakh Hindu-Bengalis, along with people from other communities.

5 lakh Hindu-Bengalis will submit applications under CAA

In an interview with a local television channel, Sarma said, “Many Hindu-Bengalis had come at different points of time and stayed at refugee camps. When they applied for inclusion in NRC, they submitted a stamped paper as proof of having stayed at such camps. But, Prateek Hajela (former NRC state coordinator) did not accept the paper. As a result, names of many Hindu-Bengalis were not included in the NRC.” 

He mentioned that while a significant number of the 5 lakh Hindu-Bengalis who had previously applied for inclusion in the NRC would likely submit applications under the Citizenship (Amendment) Act 2019, others might opt for legal remedies.

The Chief Minister highlighted that among the applicants excluded from the NRC are 2 lakh individuals considered "proper Assamese," including those with surnames like Das, as well as members of the Koch-Rajbongshi community, along with 1.5 lakh Gorkhas.

“Applications under the CAA will be three-five lakh, with a 10 per cent margin of error. There won’t be any 15 or 18 or 20 lakh or 1.5 crore applicants in Assam. After being in politics for so long, I have that much grip on the state,” the BJP leader asserted.

The NRC, monitored by the Supreme Court, was published on August 31, 2019, and excluded 19 lakh out of 3.4 crore applicants. The NRC was updated on the basis of the Assam Accord, which sets midnight of March 24, 1971, as the cut-off date for granting citizenship to Bangladeshis who had entered the state.

'No applications under the CAA in Assam till date'

Chief Minister Sarma stated that so far, there have been no applications under the CAA in Assam, contrasting it with Gujarat where 12 families applied and were granted citizenship through the designated portal.

“Till the first phase of elections here on April 19, it will be almost 40 days since the implementation of the CAA. But, not even 50,000 applications will be registered in Assam (till that time),” the Chief Minister asserted.

He maintained that the CAA will be a “game changer and a boon” for the BJP.

Earlier, soon after the act was implemented, Sarma had said he will be the first to resign if even one person, who has not applied for NRC in the state, gets citizenship.

CAA rules

The Union Home Ministry officially notified the rules for the implementation of the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA), a move anticipated ahead of the impending Lok Sabha election schedule announcement. 

The rules, formulated by the Narendra Modi government and passed by Parliament in 2019, aim to grant Indian citizenship to persecuted non-Muslim migrants from Bangladesh, Pakistan, and Afghanistan who arrived in India before December 31, 2014. Eligible communities include Hindus, Sikhs, Jains, Buddhists, Parsis, and Christians.

The rules also state that the applicants will have to provide an eligibility certificate issued by a locally reputed community institution confirming that he/she belongs to "Hindu/ Sikh/ Buddhist/ Jain/ Parsi/ Christian community and continues to be a member of the above mentioned community. 

The applicants will also have to give a declaration that they "irrevocably" renounce the existing citizenship and that they want to make "India as permanent home", according to the rules.

(With PTI inputs)

Also Read: 'Nitish Kumar has already made it clear...': JDU leader asserts CAA won't be implemented in Bihar

Also Read: AIMIM president Asaduddin Owaisi moves Supreme Court over implementation of CAA


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