NEW DELHI: Government today announced a number of concessions for Hindu and Sikh refugees from Pakistan and Afghanistan as part of which it also introduced relaxations in the procedure for granting them Indian citizenship.
Home Minister Rajnath Singh approved a proposal for manual acceptance of applications for granting of Indian citizenship to minority community nationals of Pakistan and Afghanistan who entered India prior to December 31, 2009.
The eligible applicants who were facing difficulties in submitting online applications can now submit the same manually along with their passports.
However, the Long Term Visa (LTV) of the applicant should be valid at the time of submitting the citizenship application at the office of the District Magistrate, Collector or Deputy Commissioner.
An affidavit filed before the authority prescribed under Rule 38 of the Citizenship Rules, 2009, will be considered in lieu of renunciation certificate.
The children of such refugees, who entered India on the basis of their parents’ passport, can apply without passport for the grant of Indian citizenship after the regularisation of their stay in India.
In case of children of such persons born in India, they can also apply without passport for grant of Indian citizenship after regularisation of their stay in the country.
These children will have to register with the Foreigners Registration Office (FRO) in the district concerned for the regularisation.
The Home Minister has taken the decision considering the difficulties being faced by minority community nationals of Pakistan and Afghanistan in submitting their applications for grant of Indian citizenship.
Narendra Modi had during campaigning for the Lok Sabha polls said at rallies in West Bengal and Rajasthan that Pakistani and Bangladeshi Hindu refugees would be treated like other Indian citizens if he became Prime Minister.
There are about 400 Pakistani Hindu refugee settlements in cities like Jodhpur, Jaisalmer, Bikaner and Jaipur. Many Sikh refugees live in Punjab, Delhi, Haryana and Uttar Pradesh.
There are about one lakh minority community refugees from Pakistan and Afghanistan living in India.
While approving the concessions, the Home Minister directed the Foreigners Division of his ministry that the grievances of these applicants should be suitably addressed.
The move came two months after the Ministry okayed the setting up of a task force to monitor and expedite the processing of the citizenship and Long Term Visa (LTV) applications of such persons.
Stating last month that he was aware of the persecution of minority Hindus in Pakistan, Home Minister Singh had said he would try to remove the problems faced by members of the community in getting Indian citizenship after they migrate to the country.