Achche Din for Pakistani Hindus with long-term visas

54535438AHMEDABAD: As the state administration received the notification from the ministry of external affairs (MEA) which relaxed norms for persons belonging to minority communities in Afghanistan, Bangladesh and Pakistan living in India on long-term visas (LTV), the community celebrated the move saying that it would address a number of issues.
The majority of LTV holders are Hindus from Pakistan who have over the years made Gujarat their home. The matter came under the lens recently, when a doctor of Pakistani origin was accused of raping, along with a ward boy, a dengue patient at Apollo Hospital. Investigators had invoked sections of The Foreigners Act, for violation of LTV norms. With this notification, those sections may not apply.
In a notification dated August 19, the MEA has stated that members of minorities from the aforementioned countries – including Hindus, Sikhs, Buddhists, Jains, Parsis and Christians – will be permitted to take up self-employment or do business, will be allowed free movement within the state/UT where they are staying instead being restricted to their place of stay, will be allowed to transfer the LTV from one state to another, will have a reduced penalty on non-extension of visa and will be allowed to issue a driving licence.

Police officials said that there are nearly 3,000 persons of Pakistani nationality holding LTVs in Ahmedabad city limits at the moment.

Dr Popat Maheshwari, a a former Pakistani Hindu who got Indian citizenship in 2014, said that the move will make the life of visa holders easier. “I was caught when I had come to Ahmedabad for my child’s delivery, as I had an LTV for Sanand. If I wanted to travel to another state, the approval would come after the event was over due to the long procedure,” he said.

“I tied up with local residents for my business but I was cheated thrice because I did not have any rights. I decided to start on my own and set up a shop in Dehgam when I was caught and was sent to prison for 15 days. The same thing happens in property cases when even relatives know that we don’t have a say,” said Motiram Khatri, who has been living in the city since 2009.

Members of the community said doctors and qualified persons will be the biggest beneficiaries of the decision.