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‘India to embrace persecuted Pakistanis’

Updated August 06, 2015

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Migrants include not just Hindus but also Buddhists, Christians, Zoroastrians, Sikhs and Jains, who would get the citizenship.—Online/File
Migrants include not just Hindus but also Buddhists, Christians, Zoroastrians, Sikhs and Jains, who would get the citizenship.—Online/File

NEW DELHI: India plans to amend the Citizenship Act, 1955, to grant citizenship to undocumented migrants who fled religious persecution in Pakistan and Bangladesh, The Hindu said on Wednesday.

It said the migrants include not just Hindus but also Buddhists, Christians, Zoroastrians, Sikhs and Jains. There was no mention of Ahmedis in the published list or of Muslim sects facing the wrath of religious bigotry in the concerned countries.

The Hindu said top home ministry sources confirmed that a bill is in the works to amend the act and make changes to some provisions.

Take a look: Footprints: Hindus in no man's land

“This is an idea floated right after the Modi government came to power, but it was found that many people who fled into India fearing religious persecution do not have valid documents, or have their visas expired.

Therefore, these people are illegal migrants and ineligible for citizenship,” a top official said. Several high-level meetings were held by the ministry with the law minister, the law secretary and the home secretary to remedy the situation.

The cut-off date proposed for victims of religious persecution from Pakistan and Bangladesh who can apply for citizenship is December 31, 2014. Citizenship by registration (a minimum stay of seven years) and naturalisation (a minimum of 12 years) will be the two routes.

Know more: 4,300 Hindus, Sikhs from Pakistan, Afghanistan get Indian citizenship

The external affairs ministry has cautioned the home ministry that the move could hurt India’s relations with its neighbours. Nevertheless, the political call has been taken, The Hindu said.

Published in Dawn, August 6th, 2015

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