The government is planning to expedite the pending citizenship requests of religious minorities from Pakistan, most of them Hindus and Sindhis, who have been staying as refugees for over 12 years. The MHA said several genuine cases stuck up at the end of either the state government or the Ministry need to be looked into.
In the past three years, the government has given Indian citizenship to 1,093 people from Pakistan who came here on valid visas but refused to go back for various reasons, the most prominent being “religious persecution”.
The government is working on plans to grant citizenship status to around 500 Hindus from Sindh region who crossed over to India in the past two years for fear of forcible conversions and religious intolerance. All of them came on tourist visas to attend the Maha Kumbh mela.
According to the government data, this year 428 Pakistani nationals belonging to various religious minorities like Hindus, Sikhs, Christians and Buddhists were granted long-term visa (LTV).
In 2010, the UPA government had relaxed norms for certain categories of Pakistani nationals to get Indian citizenship in due course by relaxing norms for extension of their LTV without insisting for validity of their passports.
“There are many genuine cases where minority population from Pakistan who have applied for Indian citizenship. Some cases are stuck with the home department of the concerned state or the Home Ministry itself. We are identifying such cases and trying to clear the backlog,” said a senior official.
MOS Home Affairs Kiren Rijiju recently informed the Lok Sabha that the issue of religious persecution of minorities has been taken up with Pakistan and Bangladesh through diplomatic channels.