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The Citizenship Amendment Act: A tumultuous journey

The implementation of the controversial CAA 2019, weeks before the Lok Sabha election, sparks outrage and protests against its discriminatory nature.

Published : Mar 13, 2024 13:25 IST - 2 MINS READ

The government’s decision to implement the contentious Citizenship Amendment Act 2019 is faced with resistance and backlash.

The government’s decision to implement the contentious Citizenship Amendment Act 2019 is faced with resistance and backlash. | Photo Credit: DIBYANGSHU SARKAR

On March 11, the Ministry of Home Affairs notified the Citizenship (Amendment) Rules 2024, officially putting into effect the contentious Citizenship Amendment Act just weeks before the 2024 Lok Sabha election. The Act, commonly referred to as the CAA, received Presidential assent on December 12, 2019. It offers citizenship to illegal immigrants belonging to six specific religious groups—Hindus, Parsis, Jains, Buddhists, Christians, and Sikhs—from Pakistan, Afghanistan, and Bangladesh, countries where Muslims form the majority.

According to the CAA, migrants who entered India by December 31, 2014, and faced religious persecution or feared such persecution in their country of origin are eligible for citizenship. However, critics argue that the Act, masked under the guise of providing asylum, effectively discriminates on the basis of religion. This bias is evident in its exclusion of not only Muslims but also minority Muslim groups like Hazaras in Afghanistan and Ahmadiyas or Shias in Pakistan. Additionally, the Act overlooks other persecuted communities such as Sri Lankan Tamils and Myanmar’s Rohingyas.

While the Citizenship Act of 1955 has undergone nine amendments, none have sparked widespread protests like the 2019 amendment, which introduced the “singular threat of granting citizenship based on religion”. The discriminatory nature of the legislation prompted nationwide opposition from students, NGOs, opposition parties, and civil society organisations. Mass protests, epitomised by the Shaheen Bagh movement, emerged against its implementation.

Even four years later, the government’s decision continues to face resistance and backlash. The Indian Union Muslim League (IUML) has petitioned the Supreme Court to halt the CAA’s enforcement. The timing of the government’s action just before the election, coupled with its contentious amendments, raises suspicions about whether the majority-led government is using the CAA as a diversionary tactic from issues such as electoral bonds or as part of its vote-bank politics.

Against this backdrop, Frontline presents a curated selection of stories exploring the anti-CAA protests, the implications of the latest Act and the politics of reasoning. Share your thoughts with us at

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