The Ministry of Home Affairs in recent days has granted long term visas to about 431 Pakistani Hindus, which makes them eligible to buy properties and avail identification papers like PAN and Aadhaar cards.
These 431 individuals can now also open bank accounts without requiring the prior approval of the Reserve Bank of India. They would also be allowed to get driving licenses, can start a business and are allowed free movement within the state they are currently residing in. They are also allowed to transfer their visa papers from one state to another.
These long term visa holders belonging to minority communities in Pakistan, Afghanistan and Bangladesh which include Hindus, Sikhs, Buddhists, Jains, Parsis and Christians are allowed to buy a small house which is sufficient for their use and can also buy an accommodation to set up a business.
This whole exercise can be dated back to the Modi government’s policy to help minorities in Pakistan, Afghanistan and Bangladesh, who decide to seek refuge in India after facing persecution in their home countries.
As per a 2015 press release from the Home Ministry, the central government on humanitarian grounds had decided to exempt minority communities from Bangladeshi and Pakistani, who entered India before 31st December, 2014, from having to follow the Passport (Entry into India) Act, 1920 and the Foreigners Act, 1946.
This included the minorities who had entered the country without valid documents like a passport or their travel documents had expired while staying in the country. Thus the Central government was considering regularising their entry and stay.
Apart from providing long term visas, citizenship is also being provided to Pakistani Hindus.
We had recently reported how the Raman Singh led Chhattisgarh government had helped provide citizenship to 60-70 Pakistani Hindus and the number might soon increase to 600-700. This was possible as a result of the Central government giving authority to the state government for taking such actions.