A total of 158 Pakistani Hindu nationals have been issued Indian citizenship while 3,733 were granted Long Term Visas (LTV) since the Narendra Modi led government announced the setting up of Special Task Force in September last year.
According to a report of The Economic Times, 26 camps of the Task Force were organised in 26 districts across India during which 1,681 applications for citizenship and 1,665 for LTV were approved till May this year.
In a statement, an Indian Home Ministry spokesman said: “While citizenship has been granted to 158 Pakistani nationals, LTV has been granted to as many as 3,733 Pakistani nationals during the period,” Home Ministry spokesman said in a statement.
“There are thousands of applications pending before the government for granting visa for a longer term.”
Indian Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh had approved the setting up of the Task Force under the Joint Secretary (Foreigners) to monitor and expedite processing of citizenship and LTV applications in September last year.
The Task Force, comprising four Consultants, had held interactive sessions in a number of cities across the country having concentrations of Hindus from neighbouring countries to monitor and expedite grant of citizenship and LTV and addressed public grievances, the spokesman said.
The Indian government has also rolled out an online system for submission of LTV applications by eligible Pakistani nationals and for its processing by various agencies.
The spokesman said: “The Pakistani nationals eligible for LTV can now submit the applications online and it will enable the applicants to track their applications and help in speedy processing.
“The manual system of submission of applications LTV will continue along with the online system for a period of three months but from August one, all applications for LTVs will be received and processed online.”
There are about 400 Pakistani Hindu refugee settlements in cities like Jodhpur, Jaisalmer, Bikaner and Jaipur while most of the Hindu refugees from Bangladesh live in West Bengal and some in Northeastern states.
There are around 100,000 Hindu refugees from Pakistan, Bangladesh and Afghanistan in India, according to officials.
Most Pakistani nationals belonging to the minority community come to India on a tourist visa only to claim refugee status. Seeking to stay back, they usually apply for citizenship or long term visas.
As per data put out by the Union Home Ministry, 3,753 Pakistani nationals were given long-term visas over 2013 and 2014 (up to June 30) and 1,854 granted citizenship between 2011 and 2014.