NEW DELHI: Minorities from Afghanistan, such as Sikhs and Hindus, who are living in India, could be provided citizenship even if the amended Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) rules take time, National Commission for Minorities (NCM) chairperson, Iqbal Singh Lalpura, told this newspaper in an exclusive interview.

Lalpura, who took over as NCM chairperson last month, said he had raised the issue with Union Home minister Amit Shah, who had assured him that this would be a priority for the Modi government. “Many Sikhs from Afghanistan, who are living in India, have approached me for help with getting Indian Citizenship. I have spoken to Union home minister about the matter.

I have been asked to provide the details of such minorities. The home minister has personally offered to facilitate citizenship for Afghans living in India. He assured me that it would be done even if the amended citizenship Act takes time to come into effect, as the new rules for law are still being worked upon. This would be done under the existing rules,” Lalpura said.

He added that if required, he would request the government to make amendments in the rules to help maximum number of people from Afghanistan get citizenship. The NCM chief said he would also take up the issue of the plight of Sikhs in Afghanistan with the government. “Sikhs there are living under threat since the Taliban took over. Reports say they are being offered two options — either to convert to Islam or be ready to face death.”

Asked if the NCM would also request the government to expedite framing of rules for the CAA that seeks to grant Indian citizenship to six undocumented communities, including Sikhs, from Pakistan, Bangladesh and Afghanistan, Lalpura said he was confident that the government would work on it. When asked about the rise in targeted violence against minorities, particularly Muslims and Christians, in recent years, Lalpura said a “false narrative” was being created to tarnish the country’s image.