NEW DELHI: Over the past one year, the Narendra Modi-led government has granted Indian citizenship to over 4,200 Hindus and Sikhs from Pakistan and Afghanistan which is nearly four times the number of the preceding five years.
Figures at the end of April 2015 showed that the BJP government approved citizenship for 4,230 Hindus and Sikhs from the two countries who have sought refuge in India. This was in stark contrast to the 1,023 granted by the Congress-led UPA-II.
BJP had declared its aim of positioning India as a refuge for Hindus fleeing persecution anywhere in the world and the increase in these grants seem to fall in line with their aims.
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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.
As the home ministry steps up efforts to expedite long-term visas and citizenship to those fleeing Pakistan, Afghanistan and Bangladesh, Hindus from the neighbouring Islamic countries would see a sharp increase in getting Indian nationality government officials confirmed.
Almost 19,000 migrants have already been handed long-term visas after the BJP government took over in Delhi last May.
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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.
The changes in the Citizenship Act that ensure faster disposal of citizenship requests have the potential to open up the floodgates, swelling the number of those eventually allowed to be permanently based in India to around 10 lakhs by December 2016.
This article originally appeared on The Economic Times
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