Muslim, Rohingya refugees convert to Christianity to take benefit of the Citizenship (Amendment) Act

Delhi: The Citizenship (Amendment) Act (CAA) has prompted many Afghan and Rohingya Muslim refugees to convert to Christianity so as to become eligible for Indian citizenship, central agencies have alerted the government, according to people with knowledge of the matter. Nearly 25 such cases of Afghan Muslims converting to Christianity have been flagged by the agencies as part of an ongoing assessment, they said.

The legislation, which was passed by Parliament last year and came into existence on January 10 this year, allows non-Muslim migrants from Afghanistan, Bangladesh and Pakistan to apply for Indian citizenship. The Union home ministry has yet to notify the rules for CAA 2019.

Adib Ahmed Maxwell, who heads an Afghan church in south Delhi, told ET: “Post CAA, there has been a spurt in the number of Afghan Muslims wanting to convert to Christianity.”

Maxwell, 34, came to India at the age of 21. His parents follow Sunni Islam and live near Kabul in Afghanistan. “Most Afghans apply for asylum under the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR),” he said.

According to official data, there are 150,000-160,000 Afghan Muslims living in Delhi, mainly East of Kailash, Lajpat Nagar, Ashok Nagar and Ashram. The community recently helped Indian agencies locate Afghan Sikh Nidan Singh Sachdeva, who was kidnapped by Taliban militants from Paktika province in eastern Afghanistan. Singh had gone to perform community service at a gurudwara in Afghanistan.

Besides, official estimates suggest there are nearly 40,000 Rohingya Muslims across India, with the highest number in Jammu and Kashmir. A large number of these migrants have been residing in India prior to 2012 and are now claiming to be from Bangladesh while taking up Christianity.

With inputs from The Economic Times