India to grant citizenship to migrants who fled religious persecution in Pakistan, Bangladesh and Afghanistan



by S Venkat Narayan Our Special Correspondent


NEW DELHI, August 5: India is planning to grant citizenship to migrants who fled religious persecution in neighbouring Muslim countries Pakistan, Afghanistan and Bangladesh, the local media reported today.


There is a proposal under Prime Minister Narendra Modi Government’s consideration to amend the Indian Citizenship Act of 1955 to grant citizenship not just to Hindus but also Buddhists, Christians, Zoroastrians, Sikhs and Jains.


Top Home Ministry sources have confirmed that a Bill is in the works to amend the Act and make changes to some provisions in the Foreigners Act, 1946, the Passport (Entry into India) Act, 1920, and the Passport (Entry into India) Rules, 1950. The Law Ministry has vetted the amendments.


“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.


“Basically, two changes need to be made to the Passport Act, 1920, and Passport Rules, 1950, to exempt people who fled religious persecution from Pakistan or Bangladesh from being termed illegal migrants and offer them long-term visas while their case for citizenship is being considered,” a source said.


The cut-off date proposed for victims of religious persecution from Pakistan, Afghanistan 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.


However, 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 Citizenship Act, 1955, will have to be amended to reflect the exemption from the status of illegal migrant. “Section 2, sub-section 1’s clause (b) will have a proviso which will reflect this exemption,” a source said.


The amendment to the Passports Act, 1920, and Passport Rules, 1950, will have to be notified and tabled in Parliament for two months to allow for objections, if any, before being deemed clear. The amendments to the Citizenship Act, 1950, will be cleared as a Bill after being debated in Parliament.


On Monday, BJP general secretary Ram Madhav said in Silchar: “No person who came from Bangladesh because of persecution or harassment will have to leave Assam or India. The NDA government will soon bring in necessary amendments to the Citizenship Act.”


“At his first public rally in Assam during the 2014 election campaign, Narendra Modi had said Hindu Bangladeshis would be removed from camps and given citizenship,” a senior BJP leader said.


Earlier, India granted migrants from Pakistan and Afghanistan long-term visa for five years, and they were required to complete a stay of seven years to be eligible for citizenship.



5 replies

  1. Had I known it before. I would have gone there. As I miss my culture , weather , food and our very own pure living Asian style.

  2. As per my knowledge Ahmadi Muslims are better in India in comparison to Pakistan. There is no as such discrimination as we face in Pakistan.

  3. Anisa. In urdu one saying “door kay dhole suhanay”. Prior to 2012 I also had the same notions. However after visitng two times India I can safely say, “Bakhsho bi billi chuha landora hi bhala”. Hope you will understand it.

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