A day before the Rajasthan assembly election dates were announced and model code of conduct kicked in, the state relaxed its policy for allotting residential plots to Pakistani Hindu migrants, allowing them to purchase land at a concessional rate anywhere in the state.
The Urban Development and Housing Department issued a fresh circular on October 5 after it received several memorandums seeking changes to the policy that was rolled out in May. And the change in rules is expected to benefit around 1 lakh Hindu migrants.
“Earlier, there was a condition that residential plots will be allotted in only those districts where the Pakistani Hindu migrants have been living at the time of acquiring citizenship. There were several restrictions in acquiring plots outside,” said Rajendra Singh Shekhawat, joint secretary, Urban Development and Housing Department.
Pakistani Hindus who migrate to Rajasthan fearing religious persecution are mostly based in border districts such as Jodhpur and Jaisalmer where, according to activists, the previous Congress government had reserved 500 and 2,000 bighas of land for purchase by Pakistani Hindu migrants.
“There are currently around 5 lakh Pakistani Hindu migrants in Rajasthan and around 1 lakh people will benefit from this as they can now apply to purchase lands at a concessional rate in any district where other branches of their families are living,” said Hindu Singh Sodha of Seemant Lok Sangathan, an NGO that works among the Pakistani Hindu migrants.
The latest amendment allows eligible Pakistani Hindu migrant to apply for residential plots at concessional rates in any district with a reason explaining it. “The head of the family will have to cite reasons like close relatives reside in a different district, that the person or his family is engaged in a business in another district or he intends to set up a business there,” reads the circular.
“This latest change in policy is a landmark move, which will reunite many families who have been forced to stay apart in separate districts after migrating from Pakistan in different times. Ever since the policy was issued in May, we have been requesting the government to provide this relaxation,” said Sodha. Among other changes, the latest amendments enable Pakistani Hindu migrants with Indian citizenship living in a place in Rajasthan for a minimum of two years to apply for residential land.