Tuesday 28th May 2024,
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Government plans to grant Indian citizenship to Hindu and Sikh refugees, soon

Government plans to grant Indian citizenship to Hindu and Sikh refugees, soon

NEW DELHI: India is readying to grant citizenship to Hindus and Sikhs who have sought refuge in the country from religious persecution in Pakistan, Bangladesh or Afghanistan.

The home ministry plans to seek cabinet approval ahead of the upcoming monsoon session of Parliament, which starts on July 18, to its proposal to empower district magistrates to grant citizenship to such immigrants, officials said.

As per the Cabinet note, the ministry has proposed that those who belong to the minority communities in Pakistan, Bangladesh and Afghanistan and have been staying in India on a long-term visa be allowed to buy property, open bank accounts and obtain Permanent Account Number as well as Aadhaar card.

Once the Cabinet grants its approval, the government can issue an executive order and ease norms for these immigrants, a senior official said, requesting not to be identified. In order to grant citizenship, though, the Citizenship Act, 1955 will have to be amended through Parliament, the official said.

The BJP-led central government’s move is in line with the party’s promise in the run-up to the Lok Sabha election in 2014, when its manifesto declared India “a natural home for persecuted Hindus”.

Officials said such immigrants, numbering 2.5 lakh as per some estimates, are scattered across ten districts of Gujarat, Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra and Chhattisgarh.

The ministry had in April invited suggestions from the public on its move to roll out special facilities to Hindus who came to India on the grounds of “religious persecution”.

It has now proposed to provide relief to such immigrants including reduction in fees for registration as citizens of India as a refuge for Hindus fleeing persecution anywhere in the world, much like Israel’s stance towards Jews.

Rahul Tripathi, The Economic Times

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