The Minister of State for Home Affairs, Nityanand Rai spoke about the data relating to the foreign nationals claiming to be refugees during the parliamentary proceedings on Wednesday. He said that the data regarding such individuals is not maintained centrally. Rai informed that this is not possible as India is not a signatory to the UN Convention that dictates the status of refugees in a country.
Speaking about the data related to refugees belonging to Hindu, Buddhist, Parsi, Christian and Sikh religions from Pakistan, Afghanistan, and Bangladesh currently residing in the country, Rai said in the Parliament, "India is not a signatory to the 1951 UN Convention relating to the status of refugees and the 1967 Protocol thereon."
"All foreign nationals including refugee seekers are governed by the provisions contained in the Foreigners Act, 1946, the Registration of Foreigners Act, 1939, the Passport (Entry into India) Act, 1920 and the Citizenship Act, 1955. Data relating to foreign nationals claiming to be refugees and residing in India is not maintained centrally," he added further.
The Citizenship Amendment Act is the first formal India law that seeks to provide citizenship to the minority communities namely Hindus, Sikhs, Buddhists, Jains, Parsis, and Christians from Afghanistan, Bangladesh, and Pakistan. This will be applicable to the members of these communities having arrived in India on or before December 31, 2014. Moreover, they will not be considered as illegal migrants.
Additionally, the mandatory residence period for naturalised citizenship for these communities would be reduced to 6 years. Several parties in the North East such as the All Assam Students’ Union (AASU) have been vehemently opposed to this Act. To ameliorate their concerns, the Centre has exempted a major part of the North East from the ambit of the CAA. The opposition has been contending that the Bill discriminates on the basis of religion, which might go against Article 14, which guarantees the right to equality.