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Declaring Religion Now Mandatory To Apply For Indian Citizenship

The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) government has been facing criticism for linking religion to citizenship.

The Narendra Modi-led government at the Centre has now added a ‘religion’ column to the form that needs to be filled for Indian citizenship by registration. This has been done through the Citizenship (Amendment) Rules, 2018, notified on October 18.

Before these Rules, declaring one’s religion was not mandatory while applying for Indian citizenship. The changes have been made in Schedule I of the Citizenship Rules, 2009, reported Economic Times. The Citizenship Act, 1955 and the Citizenship Rules 2009, do not talk about the religion of the applicant.

The Ministry of Home Affairs, however, has said that the amendment was applicable only to minorities from Pakistan, Bangladesh and Afghanistan. “It would not be appropriate to interpolate that anyone seeking citizenship needs to declare religion. Earlier, notifications were issued in 2014 and 2016 on the issue but it has been inserted in Citizenship Rules this time,” a home ministry spokesperson told ET.

The Citizenship Amendment Bill, which makes ‘refugees’ belonging to minority religions in Pakistan, Bangladesh and Afghanistan eligible for Indian citizenship, is still pending in the Parliament. The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) government has been facing criticism for linking religion to citizenship.

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