The Union Ministry of Home Affairs on Wednesday issued the first set of citizenship certificates to 14 people under the Citizenship Amendment Act, 2019.

This came more than two months after the government notified the Citizenship Amendment Rules, enabling the implementation of the Citizenship Amendment Act.

Fourteen certificates were handed to the applicants in Delhi on Wednesday by Union Home Secretary Ajay Kumar Bhalla. The applicants arrived in Delhi from Pakistan in 2013, according to The Hindu.

In all, the Centre on Wednesday granted citizenship to over 300 persons who applied under the Act, the newspaper quoted an unidentified senior government official as saying. Citizenship certificates to beneficiaries who live in other parts of the country were in the process of being sent by post.

Most of those who applied under the Act were reportedly Pakistani Hindus.

The Citizenship Amendment Act provides a fast-track to Indian citizenship for refugees from six minority religious communities, except Muslims, from Bangladesh, Afghanistan and Pakistan, on the condition that they have lived in India for six years and have entered the country by December 31, 2014.

Indian Muslims fear that the law could be used, along with the nationwide National Register of Citizens, to harass and disenfranchise them. The National Register of Citizens is a proposed exercise to identify undocumented immigrants.

On March 11, the Centre notified the rules under the Act, laying down the procedure for processing applications by the District Level Committee and the scrutiny and grant of citizenship by the State Level Empowered Committee.

On Wednesday, the home ministry said applications have been received from persons belonging to Hindu, Sikh, Jain, Buddhist, Parsi and Christian communities from Pakistan, Bangladesh and Afghanistan who have entered into India up to December 2014 on account of persecution on grounds of religion or fear of such persecution.

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