CAA Vs NRC: What Is The Difference, Are They Linked? Here’s Everything You Must Know

In advance of the Lok Sabha elections, the Ministry of Home Affairs on March 11 announced the implementation of the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA), 2019. The legislation triggered protests across India after it was passed in December 2019, with many labelling it discriminatory. Another controversial decision that has drawn fierce opposition in the country was the National Register of Citizens (NRC) that mandates registration for every citizen of India.

Since their introduction, concerns have been raised regarding the potential link between the NRC and CAA. Critics are of the opinion that the CAA and NRC together would effectively discriminate against Muslims.

What is CAA?

The Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA), which dates back to 2016, was cleared by the Parliament in 2019. The move led to widespread protest in India, mainly in Assam. Passed on December 11, 2019, the legislation allows Hindus, Sikhs, Christians, Buddhists, Jains and Parsis who migrated Muslim-majority Bangladesh, Pakistan, and Afghanistan before December 31, 2014, to able to get Indian citizenship.

The Centre has maintained that the people from these six faiths have been persecuted in the neighbouring Muslim-dominated countries and offering the government would offer them Indian citizenship on humanitarian grounds. However, the exclusion of Muslims from the list has cast a doubt of the government’s initiative, with critics calling it a deliberate attempt and undermining the secular principles of the Indian Constitution.

Home Minister Amit Shah has repeatedly clarified that the CAA is solely applicable to illegal migrants and does not impact any Indian citizen.

What is NRC?

The National Register of Citizens (NRC), established under the Citizenship Act of 1955, is a record exclusively of Indian citizens. It primarily aims to identify legal Indian residents and has, thus far, been implemented only in Assam. However, plans have been announced by Home Minister Amit Shah to extend the NRC nationwide to identify illegal immigrants.

Like the CAA, the NRC too has been met with fierce opposition and scepticism, leading to questions about its connection to the CAA. Concerns have surfaced that these two together might compel citizens to prove their legal status in India.

Differences between CAA and NRC

While the CAA applies solely to illegal migrants residing in India, the NRC comprises a record exclusively of Indian citizens. Despite assurances from the government, concerns persist about the potential combined impact of the CAA and NRC, with fears that Muslims might be excluded from the NRC, rendering them stateless.

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