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Madhya Pradesh government on Thursday granted Indian citizenship certificates to the first three applicants under Citizenship (Amendment) Act (CAA) 2019 in the state.

Chief Minister Mohan Yadav physically handed over the Citizenship certificates to two Pakistani applicants Sameer Melwani (12) and Sanjana Melwani (18) and one Bangladeshi applicant Rakhi Das at Mantralaya in the state capital Bhopal.

Mr Yadav welcomed the migrants to the state and also said that they would welcome other people coming to the state as well.

“I welcome them to Madhya Pradesh. We will welcome all the others also coming here. Today we are happy that two of the youths are becoming our citizens and one of the family from Bangladesh is becoming our citizen. You will get all the help and assessment from the administration and the government,” he said.

Rakhi Das, one of the applicants who received citizenship certificates, expressed her happiness on receiving the certificate. She came to Bhopal from Bangladesh eight years ago to study.

“It is a very good thing for me that I got Indian citizenship. From now on, I can take examinations, and can try for a government job here. I came here from Bangladesh to pursue a PhD. I am very very happy now,” Ms Das said.

She also talked about the challenges in Bangladesh saying there was a little problem for Hindu women and they did not get proper freedom to study and to do a job.

“Everything is fine in Bangladesh but there is a little problem for Hindu women. Actually, the freedom that I get here in India to study and for the job, I did not get that freedom in Bangladesh,” she added.

Sanjana Melwani, formerly a Pakistani national, currently residing in Bhopal, expressed gratitude towards Prime Minister Narendra Modi for receiving Indian citizenship.

“I would like to say thank you to PM Modi that I received Indian citizenship through CAA. I am happy and now I can proudly say that I am an Indian,” Sanjana said.

Sanjana’s Father Pradeep Kumar Melwani said, “I received Indian Citizenship in 2012 but children (Sanjana Melwani and Sameer Melwani) did not get the citizenship. Now, my family is complete. Earlier, it used to take a minimum 2-3 years for citizenship. We applied for the citizenship of the children last month in May and now we received the certificate. Now, the procedure has become very easy and it will benefit others as well.”

On March 11, the Government of India notified the rules of the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) 2019. Section 6B was added to the Citizenship Act, 1955 to grant citizenship under the CAA 2019.

The CAA, introduced by the Narendra Modi government and passed by Parliament in 2019, aims to confer Indian citizenship to persecuted non-Muslim migrants.

There are three eligibility criteria for granting citizenship under CAA which include the migrant must belong to any one of these communities–Hindu, Sikh, Buddhist, Jain, Parsi or Christian. The migrant must be migrated from Afghanistan, Bangladesh or Pakistan and arrived in India before December 31, 2014.