Denying that “religious persecution” was a criterion for offering Indian nationality to Hindu and other select communities under the amended citizenship law, Assam finance minister Himanta Biswa Sarma on Friday claimed that watertight rules were being framed to detect “fraudulent conversion” and ensure strict compliance with the December 31, 2014, cut-off.
“There are three criteria for applying for citizenship. First, one has to be either a Hindu, Jain, Parsi, Christian, Sikh or Buddhist. Second, the applicant’s country of origin has to be either Bangladesh, Afghanistan or Pakistan. Third, the applicant should have proof of residence in India before December 31, 2014. Religious persecution is not a criterion,” Sarma told TOI.
He pointed out that the Citizenship (Amendment) Act has no provision for granting Indian nationality to a person on grounds of religious persecution because there was no way of proving an applicant faced such an ordeal before fleeing any of the three countries of origin.
“How can an applicant prove he or she is a victim of religious persecution or fled the country of origin and entered India owing to fear of religious persecuti-on? To get such proof, a person has to go back to Bangladesh or the other two countries and get a police certificate. Why should Banglade-sh, for instance, admit there is religious persecution?”