“Like new birth certificates”: Man who was granted citizenship under CAA

Although Singh's other five children and his 40-year-old wife Mira have not yet received their certificates, she is pleased that a member of the family is now an Indian citizen, or "Bharatiya Nagriks."

The first set of citizenship under CAA certificate is the Citizenship (Amendment) Act or CAA on May 16th, 2024, was issued to 14 people nearly two months after the Centre notified it, which initiated the process of granting Indian national identity to persecuted non-Muslim migrants from Pakistan, Afghanistan, and Bangladesh, one of which, Dayal Singh, a refugee from Pakistan, described the citizenship certificates issued to him, his son, and his daughter as being their “new birth certificates, symbolizing their citizenship under CAA.”

citizenship under CAA

“We took our first step in India on October 5, 2013. Yesterday, we became citizens of this country. Our family has 18 members, and three of us have received our ‘birth certificates’ (citizenship certificates),” Singh said.

Celebrating Citizenship Under CAA: A New Beginning for Persecuted Migrants

Mr. Singh, 47, is one of the 14 individuals, who moved from Pakistan with his family in 2013 and has been residing in a shanty in Majnu-ka-Tilla, North Delhi. The law gives persecuted non-Muslim migrants from Bangladesh, Afghanistan, and Pakistan Indian nationality. Although Singh’s other five children and his 40-year-old wife Mira have not yet received their certificates, she is pleased that a member of the family is now an Indian citizen, or “Bharatiya Nagriks.”

“Our journey was filled with challenges due to the identity we carried with us. But now we are ‘Bharatiya Nagriks’,” said Mira while talking to PTI in the shanty that is part of a camp for refugees, some of whom stay in tents.

Most are engaged in odd jobs such as selling chips and other packed food items, water bottles, and mobile phone covers on the roadside to make ends meet. “My father-in-law used to always say ‘One day we will be called Bharatiyas and that will be the biggest day of our lives’. He died waiting for that day,” Mira said, adding that he will be happy today.

Every migrant family at the camp has endured years of hardship, she said. “Here, two or three families with 15-20 people live together in cramped conditions with minimal resources. We started getting our children married off quickly to secure their future,” she said.

After their applications were completed online via a special site, Singh, his son Bharat Kumar, and daughter Yashoda, and the other eleven individuals were given their citizenship certificates by the Union home secretary. Jhula Ram, who immigrated from the Sindh district of Pakistan, claimed that it was a celebratory day.

Reflecting on his life in Sindh, Ram said, “I was young at that time but we used to live in a tense atmosphere. Whenever something happened against them, we used to become targets, and we were threatened.” “Near my house (in Pakistan), there was a temple of Devi Maa, which I still miss as it is one of my only good memories from childhood. I do miss that temple but now I’ll start going to Vaishno Devi (in Jammu),” Ram told PTI.

Ram said, “Our children will be proud and happy with the decision we made. It will eventually make their lives easier.” Expressing gratitude to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Mira said the new identity will secure the future of her family. She has named her youngest daughter, 14, after the late actor Sridevi.

A 58-year-old resident of the camp, who did not want to be identified, said, “We came here in 2015, and as per the CAA, only those who came to India on or before December 31, 2014, will get the CAA’s benefits.” Shantaram said, “Our people are being accepted and will no longer be called refugees. People call us Pakistani refugees but now we will be called Indians. However, my family and I came in 2015.” “I run a shop here and am just making a living. I have 50 members in my family, and we are all in the same situation, not knowing what we will do,” he said.

To provide Indian identity to non-Muslim migrants who are being persecuted in Bangladesh, Pakistan, and Afghanistan, the CAA was passed in December 2019. These consist of Christians, Parsis, Buddhists, Jains, Sikhs, and Hindus. The President signed the Act into law, but the regulations governing the award of Indian citizenship were not released until March 11 of this year—more than four years later.

The epidemic, according to the ruling BJP, caused a delay in the Citizenship Amendment Bill’s implementation, despite the party’s 2019 platform commitment to its passage. The CAA has shortened the qualifying term for citizenship applications for undocumented non-Muslim migrants from Pakistan, Bangladesh, and Afghanistan who arrived in India before December 31, 2014, from 11 to 5 years.

The decades-long wait for people who experienced religious persecution in Pakistan, Bangladesh, and Afghanistan has now ended, according to Union Home Minister Amit Shah.

You might also be interested in – First citizenship certificates under CAA issued to 14 people

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