NEW DELHI: The NDA Government has given citizenship to around 4,300 Hindus and Sikhs from Bangladesh and Pakistan in one year, four times the number of refugees from the neighbouring countries who were granted citizenship by the previous government.
During his election campaign, Prime Minister Narendra Modi had said Hindu refugees from Pakistan and Bangladesh would be treated like Indian citizens, and Home Minister Rajnath Singh said India was a “natural home for persecuted Hindus”, who would be welcome to seek refuge in the country.
There are around two lakh Hindu and Sikh refugees from Pakistan, Bangladesh and Afghanistan currently living in India.
Since Modi assumed office in May 2014, nearly 19,000 refugees living in Madhya Pradesh have been given longterm visas. While around 11,000 longterm visas were given in Rajasthan, 4,000 refugees in Gujarat got longterm visas.In April, the Ministry of Home Affairs launched an online system for submitting applications for longterm visas.
The decision was taken to address the difficulties faced by the Hindus and Sikhs from Pakistan,Bangladesh and Afghanistan who come to India with an intention to settle here permanently.
There are about 400 Pakistani Hindu refugee settlements in Rajasthani cities such as Jodhpur, Jaisalmer, Bikaner and Jaipur.
Hindu refugees from Bangladesh mostly live in West Bengal and Northeast states. And Sikh refugees chiefly live in Punjab, Delhi and Chandigarh.
During the five years of the United Progressive Alliance II government led by the Congress, 1,023 refugees were granted Indian citizenship.