Steep rise in citizenship to Hindus and Sikhs from Pakistan and Afghanistan under PM Modi-led government

published on May 30, 2015

NEW DELHI: The Narendra Modi-led government has in the past one year granted Indian citizenship to more than 4,200 Hindus and Sikhs from Pakistan and Afghanistan, nearly four times the number of the preceding five years.

At the end of April 2015, the BJP government has approved citizenship for 4,230 Hindus and Sikhs from these two countries who have sought refuse in India, compared with 1,023 granted by the Congress-led UPA-II.

The increase in citizenship grants is in line with BJP’s declared aim of positioning India as a refuge for Hindus fleeing persecution anywhere in the world, much like Israel’s stance towards Jews. In its election manifesto for the 2014 Lok Sabha elections, the BJP had declared India as “a natural home for persecuted Hindus” who “shall be welcome to seek refuge”.

“The numbers of those granted citizenship are miniscule as compared to the country’s population. Government has taken a call resolve the problems being faced by people of Indian origin who in anyway were staying in the country for long,” a home ministry spokesperson said.

Government officials told ET that the number of Hindus from neighbouring Islamic countries getting Indian nationality could see a sharp spike in the months ahead, with the home ministry stepping up efforts to expedite long-term visas and citizenship to those fleeing Pakistan, Afghanistan and Bangladesh.

After the BJP government took charge in Delhi last May, nearly 19,000 migrants have already been given long-term visas in Madhya Pradesh. Some 11,000 persons have been granted visas, which precede citizenship, in Rajasthan, while in case of Gujarat, the figure is around 4,000, said officials familiar with the drive.

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