New Delhi: With protests against the Citizenship Amendment Act breaking out every day, the centre is on an overdrive to dispel fears that the controversial law and the proposed nationwide National Register of Citizens (NRC) will leave millions of Muslims without a nation. The Ministry of Home Affairs announced on Friday that no individual will be considered an illegal immigrant so long as they or their parents can prove that they were born in India before July 1, 1987.
“Those who are born in India before July 1, 1987, or whose parents were born in the country before that year will be considered Indians under naturalisation as per the law,” a senior officer told Media.
The cut-off year for the NRC exercise conducted in Assam earlier this year was 1971.
The official refused to comment on the possibility of rolling out a nationwide NRC, saying that there has been no discussion on the subject. “However, we appeal to the people to not compare the Citizenship Amendment Act with the NRC in Assam because the cut-off date for Assam is different,” he said.
The 2004 amendments to the Citizenship Act had laid down several criteria for defining an Indian national. According to it, a person can be deemed as a citizen of India if born in the country on or after January 26, 1950, but before July 1, 1987; if born in India on or after July 1, 1987, but before December 3, 2004, and where either parent is a citizen at the time of birth; if born in India on or after December 3, 2004, to parents who are citizens or one of the parents is a citizen and the other is not an illegal migrant at the time of birth.
Those born outside the country on or after December 10, 1992, but before December 3, 2004, and whose parents were citizens of India by birth at the time of his or her birth are also Indians, as is anybody born in India on or after December 3, 2004, and if both the parents were citizens of India or one of them was a citizen and the other was not an illegal migrant at the time of his or her birth.
Protests against the Citizenship Amendment Bill erupted in the Northeast even as it was being passed by the parliament last week, before quickly spreading to other parts of the country. Eleven people have died in clashes so far ever since.