New Delhi, June 28: Ostracised in Pakistan, Bangladesh and Afghanistan, the 2 lakh odd Hindus had no option but to come to India. Minister for Home Affairs, Rajnath Singh who had promised to grant the refugees citizenship has instructed that the same be done by August 15.
Officials from the home ministry were directed to hold discussions with the states where the Hindu refugees have settled. In the discussion held with the states it was said that the process of giving the Hindu refugees Indian citizenship or long term visas must be completed by August 15 this year.
Freedom for many:
A month long camp in the states of Gujarat, Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh, Chattisgarh, Maharashtra and Delhi is being organised. Apart from citizenship the refugees are also likely to be given Pan, Adhar and Voter cards.
Further facilities to enable these persons to be self employed is also being considered. The state and the centre would jointly work on these issues.
The BJP had prior to the Parliamentary elections raised this issue. It had promised to address the problems of the Hindu refugees. It had also said that India is the natural home for these Hindus who have been tortured in countries such as Afghanistan, Bangladesh and Pakistan.
Subject to radical extremism:
In Bangladesh and Pakistan, the Hindus faced the highest religious persecution. With Pakistan and Bangladesh upping a radical approach considerably, most of the Hindus in those countries have left out of fear and reached India.
The Indian government has decided that it would cater to all of them and give them the legal status to remain in India. Further an amendment to the Citizenship Act of 1955 will also give these persons the right to claim Indian citizenship.
There are radical groups that have targeted them several times. Worse they are looked down upon and treated as outsiders. While many dealt with being treated as outsiders, the trouble began when the radicals started to target them.
Most of them left Pakistan and Bangladesh and took refuge in India. There is a sense of fear, panic and insecurity among many. They feel that they are in no man's land. The government which has been talking tough on illegal immigration from Bangladesh has decided that it was time to make a difference and the protect the Hindus from Bangladesh and Pakistan.
Officials say that it is a humanitarian approach and not driven by any agenda. We do not want them to feel suffocated and insecure. The proposal now is to amend the Citizens Act. Provisions of the Citizen's Act, Passport Act and Foreigners Act would be amended. Once these amendments come into force, these persons will not longer be called as illegal immigrants. They would also have the right to apply for Indian citizenship.