The recent ordinance passed by the Modi Government for Hindus and other minority refugees from Pakistan and Bangladesh is a revolutionary step in the right direction.
When the plight of Muslim refugees has shot to limelight due to the ongoing migrant crisis in Europe, Bharat has done its part to come to the aid of minority refugees from Pakistan and Bangladesh.
In a recent ordinance passed on September 7, 2015, the Central Government decided to allow minority refugees from Bangladesh and Pakistan to stay in Bharat on humanitarian grounds even after expiry of their visas.
According to the statement issued by the Home Ministry, the Government has decided to exempt Bangladeshi and Pakistani nationals belonging to minority communities who have entered Bharat on or before December 31, 2014, in respect of their entry and stay in Bharat 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.
There are reports that a number of Bangladeshi and Pakistani nationals belonging to minority communities in those countries, such as Hindus, Sikhs, Christians, Jains, Parsis and Buddhists, took shelter in Bharat due to religious persecution or fear of religious persecution.
They have entered Bharat either without any valid documents, including passport and other travel document, or with valid documents but the validity of such document has expired.
There has been no exact numbers of such minority refugees from these countries but official figures say that around two lakh Hindu and Sikh refugees from Bangladesh, Pakistan and Afghanistan are presently living in Bharat. Since Prime Minister Narendra Modi Government came to power in May last year, several steps including issuance of Long Term Visa (LTV) for these refugees have been initiated. Nearly 19,000 refugees have been given long-term visas in Madhya Pradesh, around 11,000 in Rajasthan and 4,000 in Gujarat.
In November last year, Home Minister Rajnath Singh had approved a number of steps to ease grant of citizenship to such refugees which included manual acceptance of applications for citizenship, consideration of an affidavit filed before the authority in return for citizenship renunciation certificate and permission to the children of such refugees, who entered India, on the basis of their parents’ passport, to apply for Bharatiya citizenship without a passport.
In April this year, the Union Home Ministry rolled out an online system for LTV applications and for their processing by various security agencies. The decision was taken to address the difficulty being faced by Hindus and Sikhs of Pakistan, Bangladesh and Afghanistan who had come with the intention of settling permanently in Bharat.
Currently, 400 Pakistani Hindu refugee settlements are there in north-western Bharatiya cities, like Jodhpur, Jaisalmer, Bikaner and Jaipur. Similarly, Hindu refugees from Bangladesh have taken shelters in eastern Bharatiya province of West Bengal and also in some north-eastern provinces.
Many organisations welcomed this ordinance as approximately one crore Bengali Hindu refugees in Assam and West Bengal from Bangladesh will be benefited. Their stay in Bharat will not be treated henceforth as illegal. Now they would not be treated as ‘D’ voters anymore. As the previous government has done nothing for the Hindu refugees, the present government is living up to its promises by taking this landmark decision.
—Nishant Kr Azad