New Delhi: As protests over the controversial Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) continue across the country, the amended law came into effect on Friday, the Union Home Ministry said in an official gazette notification.
The timing of the enforcement of the amended law is crucial with widespread protests across the country from groups demanding a rollback of the law, which seeks to provide citizenship only to non-Muslim refugees.
While several non-BJP ruling states such as Kerala, West Bengal, Madhya Pradesh and Punjab have clearly expressed their dissent and have categorically refused to implement the law, the Union home ministry has also said that the central law will necessarily need to be implemented across all states.
"In exercise of the powers conferred by sub-section (2) of the section 1 of the Citizenship (Amendment) Act, 2019 (47 of 2019), the Central Government hereby appoints the 10th day of January, 2020, as the date on which the provisions of the said Act shall come into force," the notification said.
The ministry's move comes just a month after President Ram Nath Kovind gave his assent to the law. Union Home Minister Amit Shah has been announcing in a series of public events that the Centre "will not back down an inch on CAA".
Shah has also squarely blamed the opposition parties for fuelling unrest in the country and misleading groups against the provisions of the citizenship law.
The Act aims to provide citizenship to those who had been forced to seek shelter in India because of religious persecution or fear of persecution in their home countries, primarily Hindus, Sikhs, Jains, Buddhists, Parsis and Christians from Afghanistan, Pakistan and Bangladesh. This is a drastic shift from the provisions of the Citizenship Act of 1955 that labels a person an “illegal immigrant" if he or she has entered India without travel documents or has overstayed the date specified in the documents.
It therefore amends the 1955 Act to grant exemptions to illegal migrants from these communities, who reached India on or before December 2014.
According to the Act, the amendment will not be applicable to the tribal areas of Assam, Meghalaya, Mizoram or Tripura as included in the Sixth Schedule to the Constitution and in the areas covered under The Inner Line, notified under the Bengal Eastern Frontier Regulation, 1873.