The citizenship to Hindus and Sikhs from Afghanistan and Pakistan were granted as part of a program by the National Democratic (NDA) government to grant Indian nationality to nearly 200,000 refugees from neighbouring countries.
The refugees were granted citizenship at the initiative of Home Minister Rajnath Singh following BJP’s declared policy that India is a “natural home for persecuted Hindus” who will be welcome to seek refuge.
This comes as India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi had, during the Lok Sabha election campaign, said that Pakistani and Bangladeshi Hindu refugees will be treated like any other Indian citizen.
According to the local newspaper – Times of India, there are around two lakh Hindu and Sikh refugees from Pakistan, Bangladesh and Afghanistan currently living in India.
At least 19,000 refugees were also given long-term visas since the Modi government assumed charge in May 2014.
Citing official sources, the newspaper repored around 11,000 long-term visas were given in Rajasthan and 4,000 long-term visas were given in Gujarat.
India’s home ministry also olled out an online system for submission of Long Term Visa application and for its processing by various agencies in the month of April.
The decision by the government of India to grant citizenship to refugees from neighboring countries, was taken with an aim to address the difficulty being faced by Hindu and Sikh minorities of Pakistan, Bangladesh and Afghanistan who come to India with the intention to settle permanently.