Indian Gov't Urged to Grant Citizenship to Persecuted Religious Minorities From Neighboring States

© AP Photo / K.M. ChaudarySikh pilgrims visit the shrine of their spiritual leader Guru Nanak Dev, at Gurdwara Darbar Sahib in Kartarpur, Pakistan
Sikh pilgrims visit the shrine of their spiritual leader Guru Nanak Dev, at Gurdwara Darbar Sahib in Kartarpur, Pakistan - Sputnik International, 1920, 15.05.2022
The Indian government has consistently spoken out against religious persecution in Pakistan. Narendra Modi's government amended the constitution in 2019, saying New Delhi has a "responsibility" to grant refuge to the "oppressed" minorities from its Islamic neighbours Afghanistan, Pakistan, and Bangladesh.
Expressing deep grief over the "dastardly killing" of two members of the Sikh community in Pakistan, Hardeep Singh Puri, a BJP politician, on Sunday called for the protection of religious minorities in neighbouring countries.
"Acts like these clearly amplify the dangers that religious minorities face in our volatile neighbourhood & the necessity for humane measures like Citizenship Amendment Act," Puri said.
The incident took place in Peshawar City, which is home to only about 15,000 Sikhs, on Sunday morning. Unidentified assailants opened fire at grocery shop workers Ranjeet Singh, 38, and Saljeet Singh, 42.
The minister's remarks about providing citizenship to Hindus, Christians, Sikhs, Parsis, Jains, and Buddhists from neighbouring countries came when reports emerged that the government had failed to process the citizenship applications of 800 Pakistani Hindus recently.
These Hindu migrants sought Indian citizenship based on "religious persecution" in Pakistan.
The Indian parliament had passed the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) in 2019 to grant nationality to migrants belonging to Hindu, Sikh, Buddhist, Jain, Parsi and Christian communities from Afghanistan, Bangladesh and Pakistan who have entered India before 2015.
However, the Indian home ministry has yet to frame CAA rules, blaming the COVID-19 pandemic for the delay. As of today, no foreigner has been granted citizenship under the CAA.
The amendment had sparked massive protests, particularly among the Indian Muslim community, who have accused the government of excluding Muslims from being eligible for Indian citizenship under the new law.
The Constitutional and legal validity of the CAA has been challenged in the Supreme Court of India and the matter is sub-judice.
Meanwhile, Pakistan's Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif strongly condemned the killing.
"Pakistan belongs to all its people. I Have ordered a high-level inquiry to ascertain facts. The killers will be arrested & meted out exemplary punishment," Sharif said.
Pakistan's Census data shows a shrinking population of religious minorities over the years. Hindus account for 1.73% of the population, while Christians account for 1.27% and Ahmadiyya Muslims for 0.09%.
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