The central government recently said that it had granted citizenship to about 4,300 Hindu and Sikh refugees from Pakistan and Afghanistan in the last one year.
nearly four times the number granted to such persons in the preceding five years under UPA-II.
- Officials say there are about two lakh Hindu and Sikh refugees from Pakistan, Bangladesh and Afghanistan living in India.
During the entire tenure of UPA-II, they said the total number of citizenships granted to such persons was only 1,023.
- In the last one year, nearly 19,000 refugees have been given long-term visas in Madhya Pradesh. Around 11,000 long-term visas were given in Rajasthan and 4,000 long-term visas were given in Gujarat.
- There are about 400 Pakistani Hindu refugee settlements in cities like Jodhpur, Jaisalmer, Bikaner and Jaipur. Hindu refugees from Bangladesh mostly live in West Bengal and north-eastern States. Sikh refugees mostly live in Punjab, Delhi and Chandigarh.
- In April, the Home Ministry had rolled out an online system for submission of Long Term Visa applications and for its processing by various agencies. The decision has been taken to address the difficulty being faced by Hindu and Sikh minorities of Pakistan, Bangladesh and Afghanistan who had come with the intention of settling permanently in India.
The government had, in july 2014, relaxed the norm mandating online submission of applications in view of the difficulties faced by such applicants.
Under the simplified process, the centre had allowed those who had fled Pakistan or Afghanistan, citing religious persecution, prior to 31 December 2009, to apply for Indian citizenship.
And, children belonging to minority communities, who entered India on their parents’ passport, were also allowed to apply without a passport for grant of the Indian citizenship after regularisation of their stay in India.
The Centre had also set up a task force to expedite pending citizenship requests from nearly one lakh Hindu and Sikh refugees from Pakistan and Bangladesh in september 2014.
Indian citizenship can be acquired by birth, descent, registration and naturalization. For conditions and procedure for acquisition of Indian citizenship, refer: http://indiancitizenshiponline.nic.in/acquisition1.htm.
Sources: The Hindu, MHA.