No citizenship, but long-term visa plan for minority refugees

BY Our Staff Reporter

Guwahati, Jan 29: New Delhi plans to issue long-term visas to minority refugees who have taken shelter in India due to religious persecution in Bangladesh and Pakistan, official sources said.

This was revealed in a letter sent by the Union Home Ministry to the State government after it sought "certain clarifications" on the Central government notification issued in September last.

The Central government had in September decided, "on humanitarian considerations, to exempt Bangladeshi and Pakistani tiols belonging to minority communities who have entered India on or before December 31, 2014, in respect of their entry and stay in India without proper documents or after the expiry of relevant documents."

The decision has been taken under Passport (Entry into India) Act, 1920 and Foreigners Act, 1946, and notified in the Official Gazette.

The State government had sought clarifications on the notification as it felt that the notification was silent on many issues.

In its response, the Home Ministry revealed its plan to issue long-term visas to these refugees.

"The refugees will have to apply online. The onus will be on the applicant to prove that he entered India during the given period and that he came from Bangladesh or Pakistan due to religious persecution. The visa will be issued only after the government is satisfied about the applicant's credentials after verification," the sources said.

A number of Bangladeshi and Pakistani tiols belonging to minority communities in their respective countries, such as Hindus, Sikhs, Christians, Jains, Parsis and Buddhists, have taken shelter in India fearing religious persecution back home.

They entered India without any valid document like passport and or any other travel document. Those who did enter on a valid document, have complained that the validity of such document has expired.

The issue of regularisation of entry and stay of such Bangladeshi and Pakistani tiols in India has been under consideration of the Central government for some time now.

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