Hindus from Pakistan and Bangladesh can soon seek Indian citizenship. The Home Affairs Ministry has prepared draft amendments to the citizenship law, under which minority citizens of the neighbouring countries seeking refuge in India will be saved from being dubbed “illegal migrants”, The Times of India reported.
Amendments to the Citizenship Act, 1955, will benefit nearly 2 lakh Hindus in Pakistan and Bangladesh who are vulnerable to violence and blasphemy laws. While the move aims to help Hindu minorities seeking to avoid religious persecution in their homelands, it discourages migration for economic reasons. This differentiation is in accordance with international norms and the definition of who is a refugee. However, this step also falls in line with the current government’s seemingly pro-Hindu policies.
Citizenship to Hindu refugees was one of the promises the Bharatiya Janata Party had made in its manifesto for the 2014 Lok Sabha elections. Since assuming office, the Narendra Modi government has taken steps to grant such refugees with long-term visas till they can claim citizenship. These include the recently approved proposal to offer Aadhaar cards, driving licences and PAN cards to long-term visa holders to further to facilitate their stay in India. The Centre is also considering making amendments to the Passport (Entry into India) Act, 1920, as well as the Foreigners Act, 1946.